Leadership lesson 9: The Interplay between Listening, Questioning & Silence

Abhishek Paul
2 min readApr 30, 2019

Concepts if they’re valuable and true do not hang independently, they link with other similar ideas. The more links we uncover, the more robust does our learning / understanding become. Maybe this is what they call (ancient) wisdom.

I had a couple of recent conversations with my colleagues about what they enjoyed most working here and one of the things that came out was that they felt genuinely listened to. One said that despite the significant age difference (couple of decades) his opinions were still given a genuine and patient hearing while another said that she felt valued and not dismissed as an inexperienced woman. They were listened to even when they disagreed.

Communication among adults sets the tone for the relationship — so a predominantly telling / advising style doesn’t build the most collaborative / respectful relationship. There’s always an imbalance and the responsibility lies on the capability of one person alone. A question based approach on the other hand communicates an expectation that both/all parties to the conversation are expected to bring something to the table and when coupled with deep listening, it builds a much more healthy relationship.

The last trait takes me back to my classroom when a professor I highly esteem was talking about how an individual grows as his knowledge increases — the final (or last) stage of knowledge he says compels the individual to go silent. While I wouldn’t agree to this as an absolute — my eyes were opened to the wisdom that lay in his statement. Quite often, staying silent is a sign of more not less knowledge / awareness (the reverse also holds true).

A good / aspiring leader combines all these 3 traits seamlessly and their relationships tend to have a multiplier effect. As a result people around them experience significant growth, feel valued and through imitation pass it on to the others.

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