Listening skills are treasured in the workplace and are key to becoming an effective leader. Active listening takes practice, but it’s worth the effort because in return, you gain effective working relationships. Keep reading to find out how better listening skills benefit you and how to start becoming a better listener today.
Why is it Important?
People in every role should know generally what’s going on in the workplace. Your ability to listen can significantly impact your working environment in a number of ways.
Listening is about gaining knowledge and acting on it at every level. You need good listening skills whether you’re an interviewer evaluating an interviewee or employee collaborating with your team. When you demonstrate good listening skills, the workplace runs more smoothly.
If you have good listening skills, your co-workers, employees, or supervisors trust you with information. The opposite is also true. When someone doesn’t listen to instructions, they make mistakes. Managers can’t trust them to do the job right because they don’t pay attention to important details.
How Can You Improve Your Skills?
There are a few simple steps you can take to start becoming a better listener. When you do, you’ll start to see improvement in your relationships with other supervisors, employees and customers.
- Focus – Make sure to give the person to whom you are speaking your full focus. Keep your phone in your pocket and resist the urge to look at other distractors in the room. Electronic notifications and office fires vie for your attention, but deal with one issue at a time. When you repeatedly look away from someone who is trying to talk to you, it sends a message that you are bored or don’t care.
- Don’t interrupt – Interrupting is rude, and it also makes the other person feel you don’t think what they have to say is important. It can lead to resentment and later conflict.
- Ask for it in writing–When a conversation has a lot of details say something like, “I want to make sure I get all that right. When you get a minute, would you send me a text or an email with the details of what we just talked about?” Or write down the conversation yourself and ask if they could review it.
- Pay attention to nonverbal cues – The speaker’s facial expressions, their posture, and their tone of voice will tell you what they are saying and perhaps more importantly, what they aren’t saying.
Take note of your own nonverbal cues as well. Make eye contact, stay turned toward the speaker and lean just slightly in. These sorts of things communicate whether you value their input.
Impacting Your Environment
A bad listener causes problems in the workplace. They might neglect to follow instructions when working with a group and cause the entire project or process to fail. In contrast, a good listener is aware of what is going on and follows instructions, leading to success.
Your experience as an employee relies strongly on your listening skills and can mean the difference between whether you are hired and promoted or demoted and fired. Better listeners make better employees.
The next time you speak to someone, first stop and think. You can practice your listening skills even in the simplest of conversations, and who knows? You may encourage others to do the same.
Good listeners make valuable employees. Employers may be looking for someone like you. Apply today.