I’m a very animated speaker. I tend to really get into what I have to say. And, I can be just as animated a listener.
Oftentimes, this is great. I tend to be super engaged in what is happening around me, and that makes a tremendous difference for my own learning and leading, and that of others.
But sometimes, it is a distraction. It can take away from my own message, or can prevent me from picking up on the message that others are sharing.
For instance, yesterday a colleague and I were reviewing footage that is serving as a test for a video-based podcast we are hoping to put together. The idea of the podcast is to highlight great things happening in a number of or member districts, and provide an opportunity for the district being profiled to promote their great work, and allow one of our programs to tie in great supports being hosted at our organization.
It is meant to be both funny and sincere, incredibly engaging, and in service to the district being profiled, and all our districts that utilize the services of this program.
As we were reviewing the video, I noticed that my hands were constantly (seriously, constantly) moving.
I was making motions. I was pointing. I was waving. I was actually waxing the table (I looked a bit like Daniel LaRusso in the Karate Kid “wax on/wax off” scene).
While we always tend to be harder on ourselves than others, it was clear to me that all my hand movements were a distraction. For our next video, I might actually have to sit on my hands.
There is a key difference between being animated and being distracted. Watching that video helped to remind me that as we lead and learn, we have to balance our excitement with being grounded enough to keep those we serve, and those we collaborate with, from losing sight of our true message. And when we are listening? We have to serve as good listeners by being attentive and alert, and minimizing any actions that might cause the speaker to divert from what they need to say.
As I write this, my hands are moving across the keyboard, and that’s fine. The true test will be if my increased awareness of my need to balance my enthusiasm will help others better listen to me, and help me better internalize what others have to say.