August 14, 2014
We all know how important effective communication is in the workplace. But, when you think of the phrase “effective communication,” it is easy to simply think about it as a one-way street. It is, however, important to realize that in addition to giving information, you are also sometimes on the receiving end. And this is when you should be utilizing your LISTENING skills.
I like to call listening the “silent skill,” because it’s not a skill that you can generally observe in a person right away. Listening is a very important skill to have though, in order to work with others.
“Man’s inability to communicate is a result of his failure to listen effectively.” – Carl Rogers, Psychologist. In today’s fast-paced working environment, it is easy to rush conversations and to only participate in conversation in order to get your point across. You’ll engage in conversation, only to be formulating your response, or thinking of the next point you want to make, without fully hearing everything that the other person has to say.
This cycle makes it extremely difficult to have a productive conversation, and it makes for mis-communication to occur more easily and frequently. That’s why we’re showing you ways to improve communication in the workplace. These simple changes will help transform your communication skills from being a one-way street to a two-way street!
Why should you listen at work?
1. Save Time
Improve listening skills, save yourself time! Above all, truly listening in your daily conversations at work will save you time. When you’re not practicing your best listening skills, it is easy to forget or completely miss, or misinterpret what the other person is saying.
Listening effectively will ensure that you save yourself those follow up questions and conversations that could otherwise be avoided, if you used good listening skills in the first place.
2. Make Friends
It’s always nice to have friends around the office. Even if you’re just talking over lunch or in the hallways, when you’re truly listening, it makes it easier to engage in future conversations. If your co-worker was telling you about her vacation (and you’re listening), next time you see them you can remember something to talk about to start conversation with.
3. Be Efficient
Avoid having to ask unnecessary follow-up questions (especially those questions that have already been answered), by implementing good listening skills in the first place. It will make your work and time more efficient if you are fully engaged during your work meetings.
4. Show Respect
Being fully engaged in your conversations shows a great deal of respect towards the other person. It shows that you value their time, opinions and ideas, which reflects back on you. When you have created a mutual respect, it makes for for great communication and idea sharing. Not only is this productive, but it can help you be more efficient, make friends and avoid conflict!
5. Avoid Conflict
Often times when you are partially listening, you can misinterpret the information you are receiving which can lead to workplace conflict. It is very easy to avoid this conflict by implementing your listening skills in the first place.
Here are some simple ways to improve listening skills:
1. Write it Down what you want to say
Take an extra minute to prepare for your meeting/conversation or whatever else it may be. Write down the specific points that you want to make. That way, when the other person is talking, you’re not thinking about the next point you want to make, you can actually listen to what they have to say.
This doesn’t have to be an extensive list, but rather a simple bullet point list of keywords that will help you remember your topics of discussion. This is a great, simple way to improve listening skills and it will also ensure that you’re always prepared!
2. Don’t interrupt
Sometimes it can be hard not to interrupt when you feel like you have a very important point to share. But, that excitement can sometimes be perceived as an interruption. So, to avoid this misinterpretation while still getting your point across, we emphasize writing down your points (as we mentioned in step #1).
Make sure you have a pad of paper and pen with you at your meetings so you can write down your thoughts as they come up in conversation. That way,
when the time is appropriate, you can share what you have to say without interrupting.
3. Jot Down Questions
In addition to writing down what you want to say, you may come up with some questions as the other person is making their point. Instead of interrupting the conversation, jot down the question on a piece of paper. That way, when they are finished talking, you can ask your question. This will help the conversation to be more efficient and organized.
4. Use Appropriate Body Language
People often over look body language as a form of communication. But, with face-to-face communication, body language is increasingly important. It is fairly easy to detect a person’s attitude or mood by reading the non-verbal cues we are given from their body language.
For example, if your arms are crossed while you’re talking, people may assume that you’re angry about something. We all have our natural body language, but when you are practicing your best listening skills make sure that your body language also says “I’m listening.” This means: positioning your body towards the person, looking at the person and maintaining an open posture.
5. Recap the Conversation
Whether you mentally recap your conversation or meeting, or write it down, summarizing important conversations can be very important. It will help you remember what you discussed so that you don’t have to ask the other person questions. Also, you can use this as a way to document your meetings or conversations, if you ever happen to need the information again in the future!
What do you do to improve your listening skills? Do you have any other tips for how to practice effective communication? Share them with us!