A good listener is one who listens to people, be it his employees or his customers. This does not mean just casual listening but one that understands others effectively. Good listening skills play a subtle role in the management of most organizations.
Sometimes managers can be quite rude and intimidating during communication. What most of these leaders don’t understand is that the rude attitude and negativity which they display destroys the morale and overall productivity of the organization.
As a manager and a leader, you should understand that communicating effectively and listening better is a large piece of determining your success in the organization and as an individual. It is imperative for you to consider becoming a good listener.
Here are a few tips that you can engage;
1) Show interest in the speaker
Speakers gain more confidence when they know that you are interested in what they have to say. But when they realize that you are not at all interested in them or their message, then they won’t be able to deliver it, and even if they do, it won’t be effective.
Therefore, even if the speaker is not your favorite person or doesn’t impress you with their communication skills, don’t put it on your face. Cover your feelings and try to be a good listener.
Good listening Tip : You can be a good listener by being genuinely interested in what our subordinates want to communicate, irrespective of your judgement or feelings for them.
2) Seek clarification
During communication, you need to participate in the conversation to show that you are understanding what the communicator is saying. It also ensures that communication remains clear especially when you seek clarity on certain issues pertaining to the conversation.
I have repeatedly found that many listeners fail to understand what is being communicated. But due to lack of interest, they do not clarify things and do not ask questions. Being a good listener does not mean you cannot ask questions. In fact, a good listener tries to get all the facts that he can, even if repeated questions are needed.
If you find that you don’t understand what is being said, don’t hold back for fear of looking impolite or dumb. Just ask open-minded questions as these will help to increase the effectiveness of the message.
Ask questions beginning with the words who, what, when, where, why, and how. Such questions will allow you to receive additional information on what you seek
Good listening tip – Don’t be afraid to ask questions from the communicator.
3) Engage in nonverbal communication
During communication, your body language will always tell whether you are listening and if you are interested in the message or not.
In the bid to become a good listener, you need to master the art of engaging your body language during conversations. Through body language and remarks such as “go on,”“tell me,” or “Ah ha,” you can encourage the speaker to say more.
When this happens, the speaker will clarify their message by elaborating points that initially may have been given a cursory overview. You should always strive to get as much information as possible and understand it well. This will enable you to address the issues adequately.
A few things that you can do to show that you are interested in the conversation are by leaning forward towards the speaker if sitting on a round table. Another thing is to try to maintain direct eye contact with the speaker. Direct contact in any communication signals interest and concentration. Nodding also demonstrates that you are focusing on what’s being discussed.
Also, avoid things that may indicate you not being open to the ideas being discussed. Things like folding your arms and leaning backwards on your chair should be avoiding during communication.
Good listening tip – Use body language to communicate your positivity and to show that you are listening and encouraging the speaker.
4) Focus on the conversation more
In any communication, learn to stay calm, focused and listen. Let of go of the habit of thinking ahead of the conversation. Often, fast processing speed is what hinders effective communication. You should know that the brain processes thoughts faster than speaking words. This is why you tend to become bored quickly and find it hard to focus during conversations.
The best way to ensure that you stay focused is by making use of your mind processing speed to review what others have said. Try to analyze and evaluate their message and think of how to solve or address the issues mentioned. If you do this, you will not only stay away from day dreaming but will also anticipate listening to what the speaker is going to tell you next.
Good listening tip – Don’t try to listen to answer. Rather, try to analyse while listening so that you have the correct analysis.
5) Avoid or minimize interruptions
Interruptions cause breaks in good listening. Therefore if you want to become a good listener, you need to reduce or completely avoid interruptions during the communication.
Resist the urge to pick up your phone when it rings and close your office door so that people don’t interrupt you during the conversation. Also, bite back the craving to interrupt and instead consider more what the speaker is trying to articulate. Don’t worry about forgetting what you were planning to say: if it wereimportant,you’d remember again. And if you do forget, then it is most likely that it was a reaction rather than a positive addition to the topic.
When someone begins to speak, make it a point not to interrupt until the person stops talking. Not only is this polite, but this will give you the opportunity to get to know your prospect and determine that what you are offering is a fit for them.
Good listening tip – Avoid interruptions. If in a team meeting, request people to speak one by one so that clearly understand all of them. This is crucial for team listening.
6) Steer the conversation to the main point
Many at times you will encounter people with very poor communication skills. But despite these, you have to learn to be the leader but still be able to listen well. A good way to ensure that the speaker doesn’t go on and on about issues that are unimportant, is to encourage them to get to the main point.
As mentioned above, remarks such as “go on” “eh he” tell me” or “proceed” will encourage the speaker to say more of what is important. You need to try to get as much information as possible from the speaker and most easily but also stay polite not to sound rude or devaluing.
If you manage to steer the speaker to get to the main point, you will be able to concentrate better, listen more and thus be able to address the issues mentioned fast and more efficiently.
Good listening tip – Stay clear of digressing from the point.
Just like speaking, listening is equally an important part of communication. Therefore, as a manager and a leader you need to strive to become a good listener to be able to communicate effectively with employees, colleagues, customers, and senior management in the organization.