Listening is a vital skill for every leader. If you want to effectively guide an organization, you need to know the dreams, fears, and frustrations of your stakeholders. You must also be willing to hear the pitfalls to your proposed approach. Unfortunately, listening does not come naturally to most of us. We would much rather hear ourselves talk than thoughtfully hear the thoughts and perspectives of others. When we turn a deaf ear, we make people feel invisible.

One of the best ways to practice this essential skill is by engaging in the seemingly insignificant interactions we rush through each day, such as with a clerk at a store or barista who pours your coffee. The next time you are checking out at the grocery store, practice your listening skills. Look the associate in the eye and say hello. When they ask if you found everything alright, actually consider and respond to their question. Genuinely thank them as you leave. You don’t need to belabor the interaction, just mindfully attend to it. This is a low-impact way to redeem a wasted opportunity. When you do so, you are building your listening skills one bite-sized practice at a time.