Today’s workplace is fast-paced and full of fluctuating changes. All staff, from new hires to seasoned professionals, need to absorb new information and respond at a moment’s notice. Because of these demands, attention and active listening are more important than ever before. The importance of these skills has a value at all levels of an organization from interns to those in senior leadership.
The top three business benefits of active listening
There are three immediate benefits that businesses of all sizes and sectors can reap thanks to these active listening techniques.
1. Reduced misunderstandings. When employees are engaged in active listening, they develop the skills to identify and paraphrase the speaker’s primary concerns and repeat them back for clarification and affirmation. By doing this, all those who are in the conversation acknowledge that they understood the message. This confirmation helps to eliminate future misunderstandings and increases employee motivation.
2. Increased productivity. Employees who employ active listening techniques are more likely to understand requests or situation-specific instructions. This deeper level of comprehension helps to reduce errors and increases the likelihood that assignments are completed accurately.
3. Builds relationships. At all levels of an organization, active listening helps establish trust, improve morale, and facilitate authentic communication among employees.
Boost employee performance with active listening
Being an active listener requires you to momentarily put aside the other demands or concerns that may be knocking on your door or arriving in your inbox. There is also the option of brain-boosting supplements, which improving cognitive functioning and the correlation with productivity and performance in employees. However, there is still an emphasis on giving the person in front of you your full attention in order to better comprehend their message and to take appropriate action.
How to practice active listening in the workplace?
If you’re looking for ways to encourage active listening in your workplace, encourage employees to follow these simple tips:
- Give the person speaking your full attention and make eye contact when appropriate. All too often, we don’t give those who are speaking to us our full attention as we’re distracted thinking about the next meeting, a problem from yesterday, or what to have for lunch.
- Pay attention to your body language. Is your posture open, or are you hunched over or slouching? Keep an inviting facial expression and nod occasionally to let the speaker know you’re following along. Reading a person’s physical cues, including body posture, facial expressions, and tone, takes some practice but can help you understand what they may be trying to tell you.
- Take a moment to reflect and respond. One of the best ways to connect with a person speaking to you is to take a moment to think about what they have said and then paraphrase back to them what you’ve heard and ask clarifying questions.
- Refrain from interrupting. While it may be tempting to cut off a speaker because you’re in a rush or already know the answer, respectfully wait until they have finished their point before interjecting or replying.
- Write down key phrases the speaker has emphasized or stated repeatedly. These are the most important take-aways that they want you to understand.
- Respond appropriately, respectfully, and seek clarification when needed. If you disagree with the speaker, voice your opinions honestly and respectfully, and refrain from “attacking” the speaker by using inflammatory words, tone, or physical actions. A hostile workplace where employees don’t feel safe communicating their concerns or ideas will suffer greatly.
Like any other skill, active listening is one that takes time and practice. But once the habit is established, you’ll quickly see how beneficial it can be to build and strengthen professional relationships and enhance productivity.
In short, when it comes to any form of interpersonal communication, make an effort to pay attention, show your understanding, and then respond appropriately. Never underestimate how important it is to the success of your business and the happiness of your employees.