for Effective Listening:
and foremost - PRACTICE!
Take a lot of notes. Note taking makes a person feel
important. It also will give your
an opportunity to review the conversation later. Telling a person 'to expand
on that' makes communication stronger and encourages clarification. A
manager who sits back and just listens makes the speaker the single most
important person at the time. You're focusing on the individual. Taking notes as
you listen and underlining words is also useful when you want to incorporate
these words or ideas into your responses. Note
pads and pens at all meetings and on your office desk are handy tools to being
properly armed to actively listen.
Hold weekly meetings with all staff members with no
formal agenda, just to listen to what comes up and take the pulse of what is
happening with each team member. Listen at meetings to everyones agenda.
sessions stress listening to everyone's contributions before formulating any
reply. Good listening skills practiced at meetings and in your office helps
create an environment where people feel secure, loved and valued so that they
could be truly brilliant and not constantly looking over their shoulders or
covering their backs because the work environment gets to feel like a political
snake-pit. The best listening can only take place when there is an open
environment and mutual trust.
Let go of Ego issues.
The best listeners are those who really care about
anothers opinion and do not assume that they have all the answers themselves.
Everyday politeness says we let people finish their thoughts, all too
often we assume that we know what they are going to say and interrupt.
We just interrupt because we want to hear what we're going to say - the
ultimate ego trip!
Rephrase what is being said.
When a person is through talking, give him the
opportunity to say more and then rephrase what he's said to make sure it was
understood. This form of listening provides the speaker with feedback and the
opportunity to clarify his point. This
focused listening is crucial when working with clients and job candidates. To
place the right candidates in the right jobs, listens closely to needs,
requirements, desires and goals. For clients, focus on their expectations. Use phrases such as:
what you're thinking is this..."?
I understand that
what you are saying is
I wonder if you could give examples for clarification.
Ask the right questions.
You can't do that if we haven't really heard the candidate or the client.
To show you're really listening, you have to ask questions that generate more
dialogue. Asking the appropriate
questions is truly the best way for practice active listening.
But be careful not to over do with the questions.
Empathize. Hear the person, pause and repeat
back verbatim what the other person has said. As in rephrasing, capture the
essence of what is being said by summarizing.
Capture the feeling and meaning of what someone has said.
Express your true concern. If
you have no concern by all means just listen and dont try empathy. When
risking false emotions you will come across as a fool.
Avoid the danger of listening too
late. How often we hear that management
doesnt know that a problem exists until the exit interview. That one bites. All
too often issues come up with the human resource department about happenings
that frustrated and employee to the point of resigning. Avoid this situation by keeping the pulse on your staff by
listening. You will be able to led
the team more effectively if you know what's going on inside with their internal
Listen to the noise (the words) and the silences
(what is not said or often what is screamed in behavior and body language).
Teachers and parents often learn the hard way about those issues!
Dont assume that because someone is an adult that they have resolved
all their adolescent issues. And
dont just assume that a pause means someone is finished.
A good technique is to take a breath and to not just jump in when someone
pauses or appears to be finished,
Heres the hard one
this is where I usually bite my inner lip or
even clench a hand or pen. I find
myself always wanting to butt in with my too cents.
Or I just am getting bored. Do not let your attention wander and (unless
you are taking notes) certainly do not do anything else. There is nothing worse
that having a discussion with someone that is distracted and shuffling papers or
playing with something on the desk.
Positioning and posture has a lot to do with active
listening. Someone who's sitting
there with his hands clasped in front and looking directly at you and digesting
what you are saying, is essentially saying, 'Let me think about that for a
moment, I hear what you have said and then I'll respond. There is great
emotional pleasure in this for the one who's doing the talking. This
receptive approach is also an effective active listening device.