You subconsciously know when people actively listen to you. They give you their full attention, and you feel respected. On such occasions, you easily get your message across because others don’t just hear you, they understand your words. If they aren’t sure what you’ve said, they ask for clarification. As such, there’s no misunderstanding, and you don’t have to repeat yourself needlessly further down the line.
Active listening involves paying attention to spoken words, noticing the tone and speed of words spoken, and recognizing the body language accompanying what’s said verbally. Passive listening is inferior, low-grade communication. It occurs when people are only partially attentive to what’s said. As a result, they listen selectively, honing in on data they expect to hear and missing vital elements of a conversation.
When people employ passive listening in business, they are likely to be less productive than they might have been had they focused during communication. Data gets misconstrued, confusion arises, and the subtle underlying, unspoken communication heard by the individual speaking is that they are being undermined. Consequently, opportunities to forge excellent working relationships are missed.
Here are some tips on how to listen effectively to improve workplace performance:
To engage in active listening, it’s necessary to drop distractions. If your mind’s on another activity, you’ll fail to hear what’s said. Distractions also stem from the thoughts in your head. If you’re upset, you can’t focus on communicating well. As such, you need to be receptive.
If a colleague, client, or your boss wants to relay valuable information, but you can’t absorb it because you’re rushed off your feet or anxious, make an appointment to listen to them later. Explain you want to apply your full attention, but can’t just now.
Clear your mind of expectations before listening. Often, people second-guess what they are about to hear, and then listen selectively to prove their expectations are correct. Be open-minded, as though you don’t know the person speaking and have no idea what they are going to tell you.
Expect to Glean Useful Data
Both managers and employees might be dismissive about what others say. Thoughts such as “I’ve heard it all before,” and “he or she always speaks nonsense” stop you listening well. Imagine every conversation you have has the potential to be crucial for your well-being, and you’ll be a better listener.
Once distractions and expectations are out the way, you can listen successfully. To do so, use your eyes as well as ears since much information is conveyed non-verbally. Watch people’s body language for clues about how they feel about what they are saying. Also, listen to how they speak. If words spill quickly from their lips, they might be excited or upset. By looking at their facial expressions, you’ll discover which is true.
Listening is often overlooked as an important communication skill in business. Learning to pay full attention to what’s said, and, if you’re in a position to do so, teaching others to do the same will improve workplace productivity, business relationships, and satisfaction.
Have another tip for listening effectively? Share it in the comments below.