Being an active listener is an integral part of business. Both managers and employees want to know that they are being heard and must ensure that they are listening to what others have to say. When there is disconnect, this can lead to reduced productivity and job satisfaction as well as overall confusion. The next time you engage in a conversation, stop to think: did you understand the message? Were you paying close attention to what was said? Were they? If you can’t confidently answer yes, it may be time to re-evaluate your approach.
Practice Active Listening
This means hearing the other person out and processing what their message is before responding. Oftentimes people are busy thinking about what they want to say or how to respond that they end up missing important parts of the conversation. They have tuned out because they’re trying to be one step ahead. Slow down. Make sure that you are paying attention to the end, then take a moment to gather your thoughts.
Another element of active listening is minimizing distractions. Put down your Smartphone, minimize screens on your computer, clear away paperwork, and focus. Show the other person that what they have to say is important and they have your undivided attention. Something as simple as a new message popping up in your email or the latest memo on your desk can cause your thoughts to stray.
Make Sure Verbal and Non-Verbal Messages Match
Sit (or stand) up straight and turn toward the person speaking. This shows your alertness and focus. Slouching in your chair or turning away from the person can make you look disinterested and distracted even if you really are paying attention. Consider what you are saying and how it is reflected in your body language. Having your arms crossed in front of you can be a sign of defense. Shifting your weight from side to side can signal impatience or frustration. A flat affect can show disinterest. You want to send a clear message where your words, facial expressions, and body language all align.
Ensure Employees can Connect with your Message
Before you just start talking, make sure your purpose is clear. What do you want employees to gain from what you have to say? How are they affected? Why should they care? You want to give them a reason to connect. If they understand how it impacts their work or how they will be held accountable, they are more apt to listen attentively and give feedback. If it doesn’t seem applicable, they may tune out or not be as engaged. Before you hold a departmental meeting, consider who really needs to be there and what the essential information is that you need to convey. Keep things short and to the point.
By focusing on the message you are sending and truly paying attention to what others have to say, you can build a more collaborative and respectful environment. If your message is getting muddled and your team seems to be tuning out, let the professionals at JP Kantor Consulting help you get back on track. Improve the impression that you’re making and learn how to better connect with and listen to your employees. Contact JP Kantor Consulting today to take advantage of our wide range of professional services that can support you and your business in thriving.