By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to get the most challenging audiences to listen and respond to you. Reading time: 1:58.
Listening with your eyes in particular and — with your entire face in general — is a keen leadership skill that very few leaders in my experience have mastered. We can all learn the art of listening with your eyes from Art Linkletter –my all time “eye” deal leader extraordinaire — and host of a network television talk show in the 1960s.
For 17 years on network television– as the then longest running daytime program– Art Linkletter made an art of conversing with people known more for their lack of attentiveness and their inclination to fidget and even cry. But Linkletter calmed those 5-10 year old youngsters. With his eyes.
Linkletter would kneel and bring his face up close to the face of a youngster. He would ask questions but the kids only saw his wide eyes like huge lollipops. Inviting. Sweet. Juicy.
L.O.V.E. – Look On Vitally Engaged
His face flashed the warmth of accepting, of acknowledging, of affirming even when the youngster said something ridiculous or embarrassing. And the fidgeting youngster sat still. The youngster narrowed his or her focus. And Linkletter made a visual handshake with the youngster’s eyes only a few inches away.
Indeed, “eye”-deal leaders like Art Linkletter LOVE their audiences. LOVE is an acronym for Look On Vitally Engaged. Your eyes and ears communicate more than your words or actions. That’s why philosopher Paul Tillick said listening is the first duty of love and author Tom Peters says listening is the highest form of courtesy.
Eye-Deal Listeners Make Others Feel Important
When you listen with your eyes, you make others feel important. You add value –val-you–to them. You bring out the best in them.
Arturo Toscanini, the conductor, listened masterfully with his eyes, according to Dorothy Sarnoff, writing in her book Speech Can Change Your Life. “When Toscanini conducted for singers, the expression on his face was one of rapture. He listened with such ecstasy that they could not help out-singing themselves.”
That’s what eye-deal leaders do: they bring out the best in others. With LOVE!