What did you say, I wasnt listening?
Most people get distracted from time to time while listening to each other. This is normal. Unfortunately not listening effectively can cost employees and employers time and money. There are many advantages to learn to master the skill so listening.
By being a great listener an employee can become more capable and competent. The more information an employee can take away from meetings, conversations and training sessions, the more knowledgeable they become. Active listening takes practice and it is well worth the effort. Good listeners can execute on instructions with little or no follow up. They are also less likely to make mistakes based on misunderstood instruction or information.
When employees listen effectively, particularly when they listen to the non verbal language as well as the spoken word, it can reduce the risk of inter-personal conflicts. By listening and clarifying for understanding will go a long way to prevent misunderstanding. It is truly one of the greatest gifts you can give to someone. Actively listening to each other can create a culture of respect.
Can Save Time and Money
When employees have clear communication and actively listen to one another, they can reduce the number of errors due to misunderstandings. This helps promote doing it right the first time. Time is money and when errors are avoided due to good listening and communication, the company saves both time and money. It can also reduce the stress experienced when employees have to go back and correct their errors. When teams have a culture where the employees listen to each other, problems can be detected and solved much more quickly.
Can Build Trust, Rapport and Respect
As a leader it is important to be an active listener. This communicates that you care and have respect for the employees and those on your executive team. This can go a long way to enhance employee engagement and motivation. A leader who knows how to listen effectively is able to capture important information that will help prevent errors.
Five Tips on How to Actively Listen
- Mentally prepare – to mentally prepare, clear your mind of other thoughts and focus on the conversation you are having. Decide to pay attention and block any internal dialogue that comes up. Remove any distractions or move to a place where there a no or minimal distractions. Keep an open mind and listen to everything before forming any opinions.
- Pay Attention not only pay attention to the words that are spoken also observe body language. Make eye contact, listen with empathy and make sure your body language communicates that you are open (ie no crossed arms).
- Do not interrupt. Listen until speaker is completed and avoid adding comments along the way.
- Provide feedback or ask questions for clarification. Acknowledge the speaker with non verbal clues that you are listening. Smiling, nodding or other affirmative gestures will let the speaker know you are listening. Paraphrasing or repeating what the speak said will also indicate you have listened.
- Repeat steps one through four until you are both satisfied that the communication has been effective.