The Art of Listening with Heather R. Younger

The Art of Listening with author, speaker and CEO, Heather R. Younger

On this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit Podcast, Jenn DeWall welcomes Heather R. Younger back to the podcast to discuss her newest book, The Art of Active Listening. This is Heather’s third time as a guest on the show!

Heather R Younger is an experienced keynote speaker, a three-time author, and the CEO and founder of Employee Fanatics— a leading employee engagement, leadership development, and DEI consulting firm.

Heather is on a mission to help leaders understand the power that they possess to ensure that people feel valued at work. In this conversation, Jenn and Heather dive into Heather’s latest book, The Art of Active Listening.

 Episode Summary:

Jenn welcomes Heather R. Younger back to the podcast, and they catch up on what Heather has been up to since her last appearance on The Leadership Habit. Then they discuss Heather’s inspiration for her latest book, The Art of Active Listening.

Heather explains her journey from writing her first book, Seven Intuitive Laws of Employee Loyalty. The book’s first chapter deals with the need for caring and supportive managers.

Exploring that topic led to writing her second book, The Art of Caring Leadership, to define what supportive managers look like. In that book, she discovered the importance of listening, which inspired the newest book. Her latest work defines a five-step framework for being a better listener.

What Do Organizations Get Wrong About Listening?

Heather points out that companies often conduct surveys or ask for employee feedback. However, they often fail to take action on that feedback. Then, they fail to explain to employees why they did or did not follow up on that feedback. This break in communication makes employees feel they are not heard, and that their feedback is pointless.

Heather then points out that another common mistake happens at work and home. Technology constantly distracts everyone, preventing us from giving our full attention to others. She points out the importance of giving undivided attention to others to make them feel seen and heard.

Listening is the Key to Employee Engagement and Retention

Then, Heather and Jenn discuss how hybrid work, the pandemic and the Great Resignation have affected both customer and employee retention. Workers and clients are very aware they have choices. If they don’t feel seen and heard, they will go somewhere else.

When employees feel valued, heard and understood, they will be more engaged and more likely to stay with the company. Likewise, customers are most likely to be loyal to a business that sees them as a person and understands what they want. The best way to do that is to really listen to them.

The Five-Step Framework for Active Listening

Next, Jenn asks Heather to explain the five-step framework in her book, The Art of Active Listening.

1.     Recognize the Unsaid – Be aware of non-verbal cues and subtle signals in the workplace.

2.     Seek to Understand – Listen actively to understand. Never make assumptions.

3.     Decoding – Instead of jumping into action, take time to pause, reflect and absorb what you have learned from seeking to understand.

4.     Taking Action – After seeking to understand and decoding the information, you can take strategic action.

5.     Closing the Loop — Once you have taken action, close the loop by communicating about the actions and how they relate to the feedback received in steps 1 and 2.

Heather emphasizes the importance of the last step, saying, “If you don’t go tell the people that used their voice to help change something, to help make the culture better, that it was their voice, that that was the trigger for it, then they’re left guessing. Closing a loop says to them, it is, in fact, because of you. That’s the power. I’ve given it back to you.”

The Importance of Trust

As Jenn and Heather delve into each of the five steps, they also discuss the importance of trust. Leaders can try to listen all they want, but people are only open to leaders they can trust. Setting the foundation of a caring and supportive culture is essential to the process of active listening in any organization.

Where to Find More From Heather R. Younger

To connect with Heather R. Younger, and learn more about her books, podcast and more, please visit her website at: . Her books are also available on Amazon, or available in bulk at

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