This year I was given the obligation of attending lectures or workshops with topics that pertained to leadership. I say obligation for two reasons: 1. Because it’s a requirement for the protocol of my Leader Advancement Scholarship and 2. Because who wants to go sit through a lecture for fun, they’re always so boring!
However, that obligation quickly turned into an opportunity for me after experiencing an active listening workshop in my Leadership 200 class. The active listening workshop taught my class the importance of being actively engaged in what someone is saying when they talk to you. That day in class I was made more aware of things I do, sometimes subconsciously, that hinder my ability to really actively listen to others. For example, thinking of your response when someone is talking instead of internalizing their message or even thinking about what you’re going to do later that day. Another great example is being too active and actually interrupting their message because something they said sparked a thought on your half, you should hold that thought and wait to hear their message in its entirety. The workshop also showed me tips and tricks on how to be a better and more active listener. For example, make eye contact with the speaker or ask questions at appropriate times to better clarify what they’re saying and to solidify the message in your brain so it sticks with you longer!
I feel as though the application of these skills has not only helped me in my daily interactions and leadership abilities in general, but it also greatly enhanced my leadership lecture experience throughout this spring semester. A great example of this occurred this spring semester when I attended a Central Michigan University “Lead Chat” leadership workshop on identifying and pursuing your passion(s). The lecture was given by someone I admire very much and feel privileged to now call my friend: Mr. Vince Thurman! Naturally I wanted to get the most out of the lecture, but because I knew the speaker I also wanted to impress him with incredible questions or live tweets that related to the topic! This slight desire to make myself look good ended up undermining my ability to actively engage and listen to what Vince had to say. It had me focusing on what I could be saying at the end of the workshop instead of on the core content of the speech.
Luckily I was able to recognize my fault quickly and retrain my focus on the knowledge Vince was imparting to us. I never would’ve been able to spot my error during a lecture like that had I not been taught about the importance of active listening and how to effectively carry it out. Furthermore I never would have been able to take away all of the wonderful tips and personal reflections that I did from Vince’s,as well as many other leadership lectures, I attended this year!