The Storyteller. If you’re lucky, there’s at least one person in your group that holds this title. The one that everyone gravitates toward. The one that always has everyone laughing, engaged, and having the best time!
The Bore. If you’re unlucky, you have one of these people in your group that holds this title, too. The one that nobody wants to be stuck with. The one that drones on and tells the same story on repeat.
And what about the Story Hearer? The person who leans in and actively engages with the other person talking is the one that makes your heart feel more full and your stories more worth telling.
Consider that special person in your life who is your Story Hearer. Keep them in mind and consider:
- How do you know that person is your Story Hearer?
- How does your Story Hearer make you feel?
- How do you feel about your Story Hearer?
If you’re like me, you feel appreciative, grateful, and closer to your Story Hearer than most other people at the end of the conversation.
Imagine if our staff thought of us more as a Story Hearer and less as a Storyteller. How would our relationship change with them?
- Greater trust: Asking questions and practicing active listening when someone is trying to communicate a challenge they’re facing can help define what a win looks like to them.
Empathetic leaders are approachable when their staff seeks clarification or proposes a concern. By listening more deeply and transforming to a Story Hearer, you build trust so your staff sees you as someone who is approachable with any situation they may face.
- Deeper loyalty: The key to staff loyalty is empathizing with them in a way that shows you hear their fears, desires, pain points and whatever keeps them up at night. In this way, empathy and deep listening helps foster more loyal employees. And loyal employees have higher retention rates, are more engaged in their work, are more creative, and are more likely to refer their friends to work with you. #winning!
- Better problem solving: When you as a leader become a Story Hearer, you listen without an angle on solving problems. Asking questions can give you an opportunity to understand why your staff is acting or doing something in a certain way. This can then allow you to respond with an appropriate answer or help them problem solve. Ask for their input on projects they care about. Give your team opportunities to express themselves in meetings and conversations. Give them the time they need to talk and acknowledge their contributions. Watch for body language and nonverbal cues that indicate someone has an idea or opinion they want to share. Taking a bit of extra time on the front-end of a project can build buy-in for the solution, saving time on implementing the solution.
Asking questions and listen differently will help you become a more empathetic leader and a better Story Hearer. What might you do to listen more instead of trying to problem solve? Or better yet, WHO might you listen to more than you try to problem solve?
My team at CU Difference is passionate about helping your team recognize that working for your credit union is more than a job. From optimizing the member experience to building staff capability, we have developed programs that will teach your team how to act on the credit union difference. Reach out to learn more about growing a culture based on empathy.