Listening could be one of the most undervalued skills in the workplace today. Perhaps people assume that they are already good listeners. Many people believe listening is similar to hearing. Active listening is defined as fully concentrating, engaging in, and absorbing what someone is saying to you. Learning to become a better listener is one of the most important skills that a leader can work on.
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” -Dalai Lama
Often, people want to be good listeners but do not understand the true meaning of listening. Below are five useful tips and tricks to practice if you are looking to improve your listening skills:
1. Imagine you had to share a play by play of the conversation with someone else later. This will help you keep focused and pay attention to detail in the conversation.
2. Put the electronics away. This keeps you engaged in the conversation and helps avoid distractions.
3. Quickly summarize what was discussed at the end of the conversation and discuss any action that needs to be taken going forward. This reassures the other person that you were actually listening. Additionally, this will give the other person an opportunity to point out any important details you may have missed.
4. When you listen, just listen. Try to let the person you are speaking with complete what they are saying prior to jumping in with your own ideas. Be present and truly listen to what is being said.
5. Ask questions. Often when we are in a conversation, once we are confused we tend to check out. While it is important not to interrupt excessively, it is acceptable to interject with a question so that you are able to keep up with the discussion.
As a leader in an organization, listening to your team can create an atmosphere of growth and trust. Here are a few benefits of active listening:
Listening allows for increased engagement within the organization. By actively listening, your colleagues feel as though you’re interested in what they are saying which encourages them to elaborate and expand on their ideas and perspectives. By actively listening and asking follow-up questions, your coworkers will know that you care about what they’re saying and will feel valued and appreciated.
Active listening promotes productive meetings and interactions in the workplace can arise from listening well. In a group setting, active listening can lead to more decisiveness and less miscommunication. This also results in fewer mistakes and better accuracy in remembering the important facts down the line.
Active listening is a key component of the modern workplace, as it is directly correlated to agile learning. Agile learning is the ability to actively listen, make sense of random bits of data/information, and make solid decisions. These soft skills are particularly important because they are some of the core roots to creating and fostering a culture of respect.
Always keep your ears open, you just might learn something! Visit our Soft Skills Training page to see how we can help your employees grow.