Most managers know how important good communication skills are.
Modern managers realise that they need to work on their communication skills in order to be an effective leader to their staff.
However, what most of them don’t keep in mind is that the most important aspect of communication is listening.
Active listening is the term used to describe the need to focus while listening not to miss any information being given to you.
While this may seem easy, it may take some practice as active listening is an actual skill that one can master.
To become an active listener, you must:
Be Mindful Of Body Language
Our nonverbal behaviours speak louder than our verbal cues, therefore, you must focus on your body language to communicate to others that you are ready and willing to listen to them.
This may require sitting down or standing up, depending on what the other party is doing.
Additionally, you should make sure to face the person, and unfold your arms, which will signify that there are no barriers to your conversation, as crossing your arms may indicate that you are uncomfortable, or aren’t open to the conversation.
Focus on maintaining good eye contact with the speaker to show that you are fully concentrating on what he is saying.
Managers are often busy, preferring for their employees to cut to the chase about what they need.
When a staff members is trying to speak to them, they may hurry them along, or, believing they know what the person is going to say, cut them short.
Unfortunately, many individuals need the time to gather their thoughts and communicate their intentions.
Hurrying them along will only stress them out, causing them to miss an important point they wanted to make.
Also, cutting a person off because you think you know what they will say can backfire and cause miscommunication if you were wrong about their intentions.
If you don’t have the time to speak, ask the employee to try you later, if you do have the time, don’t interrupt and listen to what they have to say.
Just as the name implies, “active” listening requires an active speaker and an active listener.
Therefore, to make certain that you fully understood what the other person was telling you, you should follow up, either instantaneously or afterwards.
Whether you just rephrase and summarise the speaker’s main points, or ask follow-up questions, both will solidify that you are on the same page and lower the chances of miscommunication.
Active listening is not a skill everyone possesses.
However, remembering to be mindful of body language, not interrupting and following up will help you to become a better communicator.
Head of Training and Development
Originally published: 7 December, 2015
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