All too often we are far more enthusiastic about talking than we are listening.
Yet it is so vital if we are to communicate effectively. Most break downs in relationships in the workplace are caused because people talk at each other without really making contact.
Unless someone hears what has been said including the subtext the words have little to no value.
When we are actively listened to, we feel valued and are far more likely to engage in negotiation and compromise.
Listening is about far more than words.
Watching facial expression and body language is often a far more accurate gauge than the words that are being used.
Nice things being said where the smile doesn’t reach the eyes is an obvious example. If you are a first-time manager, this is one of the many things you need to be extra conscious about.
I have been in a lot of situations when managers say one thing and really mean another. It’s confusing to be in this situation but it happens.
To be an effective listener it is vital that you listen actively.
This means truly being present. Being mindful.
And while we have so many things to accomplish in a day, listening to your team should be a requirement that needs to be done daily.
Before your team stops listening to you, take these steps to be a better listener.
Here are 6 tips to become an effective listener:
Make eye contact
I came across the excerpt below for a similar article and it couldn’t be truer.
Just the right amount of eye contact - the amount that produces a feeling of mutual likability and trustworthiness - will vary with situations, settings, personality types, gender and cultural differences.
Having too much eye contact fosters an environment of aggression becomes people get uncomfortable.
As a general rule, though, direct eye contact ranging from 30% to 60% of the time during a conversation - more when you are listening, less when you are speaking - should make for a comfortable productive atmosphere.- Forbes
Therefore it’s important to make the eye contact while listening. It not only fosters a trustworthiness, but it also creates an avenue for open communication.
During interviews, make sure you to make eye contact as the applicant is answering your questions.
This will help you in understanding the applicant’s reactions and closely observe if they are truly interested with the company or not.
Read the body language of the one talking.
Nodding comes naturally as you listen attentively. Don’t overdo this as this will seem like you are mocking the other person.
Use responses like, “I see”, “I can see why that can be a problem”, “I see where you are coming from” help in your interaction with your team or colleague.
Ask relevant questions
Have you been in a situation in the past when you were talking about a topic and the follow up questions are completely unrelated?
Be in the habit of clarifying information relevant to the topic. Perceptions are formed in these simple interactions and it’s best to be mindful of the questions you ask.
Use open ended questions, the who, what, where, when as it relates to the information.
Say something like “So what you are saying is…”.
Always say back what you just heard. This is a good way to help you truly understand information and build credibility with your colleagues.
Summarizing the information also helps simplify the message. Sometimes your team will be filled with emotions and passion as they tell you what happened or why the project failed.
By summarizing, it will help you and your team create clear next steps.
In team huddles, there may be instances where your team will ask questions.
Let them open up and ask their inquiries. The best way to show you are listening is to summarize their questions back.
Be careful of the tone of your voice when you respond or ask questions
I’ve observed managers in the past where their tone of voice completely changes when asking questions.
They start to get aggressive to show authority. This is not a behavior of an effective listener.
Being aware of your tone of voice as you ask questions will help the person talking to you either open up or stop giving relevant information.
As an effective listener, it’s not only important that you listen to the information being given to you but also get relevant data through your questions.
Acknowledge difficulties but be careful not to fall into the trap of going into anecdotes from your experience.
Take a real interest, if you are simply going through the motions the lack of sincerity will be obvious to others. Leave your ego behind, concentrate on the other person.
Listening is one of the key communication skills that a leader needs to be better at. This is part of a leader’s personal and professional growth. In order to be an effective listener, go beyond the words. Truly understand the message and the meaning. To be an effective listener, you need to make eye contact, read body language, make appropriate responses, ask relevant questions, summarize, be mindful of your tone and use empathy.
About Daisy Casio
Daisy is the creator of ChampLeaders. She has a husband, a toddler, a passion for travel and love for learning something new everyday. She writes about leadership, motivation, career tips, mental health in the workplace, productivity and many more. Daisy hopes to share her mantra on being positive and living your best self in the now.