Hone your listening skills

We learn more by listening than by speaking

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Over the years employee engagement surveys have been highly regarded tools. They are used to measure and improve engagement, wellbeing  and ultimately performance of people in the organisations. One of the aims of these surveys is to give employees a voice so the business ‘listens’ to their needs.

Engagement surveys have a place and in the organisation, however managers, team leaders, directors, in general people leaders that have direct reports are in the trenches closer to their team members. They could be the ones listening first hand to their team members’ concerns, fears, challenges and wins.

Wouldn’t it be more effective if leaders are equipped to be great at listening?

As any other skill, you can develop your listening skills and that can significantly transform your life and the lives of people around you. Listening builds strong, deep and genuine relationships on a personal and professional level.

Why is listening so important at work?

People want to feel connected and significant, which means they want to feel acknowledged and heard.

When your team member feels like they have been listened to, they feel engaged, safe and share more information, which is valuable for them, you and the business.

Consciously listening to your team members helps them to feel connected and to move on from their problems or blockages, and progressing faster to find solutions. 

The price that organisations and leaders pay for not paying attention to what others have to say is high.

Disappointment in your team arises, commitment drops, people may feel that they’re unimportant and could experience frustration – all because they felt their voice hasn’t been heard. 

Here’s what you can do to develop your listening skills.

1. Be mentally present

This may sound very simple,  however you will be surprised how few people actually do it. Have you ever talked to someone and they are looking at you, but you know they are thinking of something else?

What about when the person is doing something on their phone or computer while ‘listening’ to you?

Being present involves giving all your attention to the speaker.

To be present, avoid interrupting the other person and disregard your thoughts for that moment. Focusing on the speaker as if there’s nothing else around shows a high level of care and respect towards the other person.

Practice being present and you’ll be amazed by the response in people.

2. Leave judgment behind

There is so much judgement around us, so what an amazing gift you will be giving to your team members or colleagues if you remove any judgment.

Creating that space will allow people to come and talk about their fears, concerns and challenges, ideas and expectations.

You will be encouraging deep conversations as well as creating a meaningful space for people to express themselves.

3. Listen to what’s not being said

When we talk about listening, we normally think about verbal communication. 

What about the things that are not being said? 

What about silence? 

Not receiving verbal feedback is already feedback. Listening to silent moments provides greater insights into people’s worlds, levels of trust, engagement and the type of culture in the organisation.

Listening is not about the time that you will spend with the person, it’s about the quality of time and your attitude when listening to others.

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