Five Steps to More Effective Listening
“The art of effective listening is essential to clear communication, and clear communication os necessary to management success.” –James Cash Penney
There is so much talking going on in the workplace that opportunities to practice our listening skills are abundant. However, listening goes far beyond just hearing spoken words, and failing to keep both your ears and your eyes open can leave you in the dust. Most people believe they have strong listening skills, but frequently, people fall short. The good news is active listening is something that can be learned, practiced, and mastered. Here are some tips from Profession Biz on how to develop this vital skill.
1. ASK QUESTIONS
A clarification question not only shows the speaker you’re listening, but it also shows you care about what they’re saying. Try asking questions that seek more information, instead of clarification. Some examples are, “What happened next?” and “Why did he say that?” When asking questions, be sure they add to your understanding, not deflect to a different topic.
2. PRACTICE REFLECTIVE LISTENING
Reflective listening is a term coined by psychologist Carl Rogers. It simply means to use your own words to repeat what the speaker just said. Repetition gives you the chance to make sure you’ve interpreted what the speaker said correctly and also provides the speaker with the opportunity to clarify if needed.
3. USE POSITIVE BODY LANGUAGE
If you can become aware of your tone of voice, gestures, and expressions, you can positively influence ’peoples’ desire to engage with you. Some examples of positive body language used by great listeners are maintaining eye contact, uncrossing your arms, and leaning towards the listener.
4. DON’T JUDGE
Being open-minded is a requirement if you want to be a good listener. It’s not fun to have a conversation with someone who already has an opinion and isn’t willing to listen to what anyone else has to say. Approachability is especially essential in the workplace, affording access to new ideas, viewpoints, and help. You don’t always have to believe what everyone else thinks. To improve your skills, trying being mindful not pass judgment long enough to understand what they are trying to say.
5. DON’T INTERRUPT
When you hijack a conversation, it shows the speaker you think what you have to say is more important. An excited interruption may feel natural when we’re passionate to help, but even a well-intentioned interruption has the same effect as saying, “Okay, that’s enough! You can stop now!” Allowing the speaker to complete their thought demonstrates respect and give you the opportunity to focus on active listening rather than formulating a reply.
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s often hard to slow down and concentrate on just listening and not multi-tasking. The time you take to slow down and practice your listening skills will reap many rewards in the long run.
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