Listening almost seems as though it’s a lost art, especially in the current digital age. After all, no listening skills are needed if you’re communicating via text or email, right? However, communication skills are still required no matter how messages are being sent or received. When you are communicating with someone face to face or virtually, though, listening can make a huge difference in future interactions. Listening well is fundamental to becoming a successful leader. Here are a few tips on being a better listener.
Don’t check your phone when you’re speaking with someone. Not only is it rude and unprofessional, you’re probably going to miss at least part of the speaker’s message. Multitasking during a conversation is not an effective way of communicating – unless you are trying to communicate that you aren’t interested in what the speaker has to say. Focus by giving the speaker your full attention. This encourages stronger relationships and assures continued communication because it creates a safe space for others – especially team members – to open up to you.
Pay attention to the speaker’s nonverbal cues, too. Are they excited about the subject? Or are they unsure and asking for advice? What do they need from you? Whether it’s assurance, feedback, or for you to just be a sounding board, determine how listening can benefit both of you. Knowledge and wisdom are gained by listening – not by always being the one who is talking. As a leader, listening allows you to be more proactive and strategic in growing your business. Commit to listening.
Among other things, active listening involves your own body language to show the speaker you are listening to what they are saying and how they are saying it. By nodding, leaning in, or otherwise revealing interest in the speaker, you are showing that you care about what they have to say. Standing with your arms crossed may be interpreted as you not being open to hearing what is being said; that perhaps you’ve already made your mind up and are not interested in hearing anymore. So be cognizant of the way you listen, as well. Repeating some of the content back to the speaker and asking for confirmation or clarification are also techniques used during active listening and can help you become a better listener.
In order to be a better listener, you can try to see things from the speaker’s point of view. That can’t happen if you are distracted or merely waiting to talk instead of actually listening. Treat listening as an act of empathy; be willing to hear what someone else has to say about something. Their perspective may be unique and afford the opportunity to further discuss the topic.
According to Adam Bryant, “There’s no more important leadership attribute than listening.” Encouraging feedback and hearing your team’s ideas helps you learn and grow as a leader. Employees who feel heard feel respected and acknowledged.
If you are interested in being a better listener, let’s schedule a chat and see how we can make that happen.