It’s certainly important in the business world to be a good talker, but one could argue that it’s far more important in business (and in life) to be a great listener. True leaders know that active listening is a valuable skill to have, and practice certain skills to make sure their colleagues or employees know they are listening to and care about what they’re saying.
Here are some tips on how you can be a better listener in the working world:
- Stay focused. Remove all distractions and give whoever is speaking your full attention. This means close your book, turn away from your computer, put down your phone and look right at the speaker. This simple gesture alone says a lot about your desire to hear what the speaker is saying.
- Keep your inner voice quiet. While it’s natural to have a voice in your head providing commentary or analysis of any conversation, you need to be able to tone it down so that you can remain focused on what is being said. Depending on the type of conversation, a good strategy for doing this is taking notes. That way, the person talking will see that you are invested in pulling out information from what they are saying, and you will avoid letting your inner voice take over and block out the messages you’re getting.
- Restate what’s been said. To make sure that you’ve understood what the person just said, and to show them that you were listening, feel free to restate the most important part of their message in your own words. You could also begin with a question, such as “So what you’re saying is…. ?
- Ask questions. If you need something clarified, speak up. It’s better to ask for more information than to sit in confusion, and it will show the person speaking that you are focused on getting all of the information correct and that you care about what they’re saying.
- Discuss what action to take. At the end of your conversation, talk to the person and determine whether you need to take any action going forward based on the subject of your conversation. This shows that you are happy and prepared to help with their issue.
Remember: it’s important that you actually listen, and are not simply waiting to talk. You will establish much more effective channels of communication with colleagues, employees and customers in this way.
Christine Kelly | Queen Bee | Viral Solutions LLC