These days it is very common for people to be trained in communication skills, negotiation skills and presentation skills. Yet it is uncommon to hear people being taught the importance of active listening. If you take a look at those who have succeeded in their careers, not only are those people good communicators but they are also good listeners.
Active listening is not only about listening; it is about showing respect to your colleagues, superiors and clients. It extends to understanding issues better, resolving problems more efficiently and showing commitment in a way that is professional.
There is nothing more irritating and upsetting when a client or a superior talks to a person and that person tries to interrupt constantly, shows no interest in what is being communicated or not even having eye contact to state that I am listening to you.
Developing the ability to actively listen during conversations with colleagues, superiors and clients can have a profound benefit to your career. It involves the actual processing of the information conveyed, remaining focused and not to allow ourselves to become distracted by mentally formulating replies to the first issue presented while people are speaking to us. Studies show such distractions causes us to lose
A popular Argentine proverb says who speaks, sows; who listens, reaps. By cultivating the ability to speak with clarity and to become active listeners, one can reap the harvest of improved productivity, increased acceptance and the potential to be promoted in the future.
The following are the benefits of active listening:
1. Earning the respect of clients, colleagues and superiors.
2. Transmitting the impression of good character and commitment
3. Building loyalty and trust
4. Positive reflection of professionalism
5. Better understanding of problems and better ability to formulate correct and accurate solutions.
6. Increased prospect of career advancement
Being a poor listener in the workplace can have disastrous consequences. No superior or colleague wants to repeat requests or instructions and with workplaces being an increasingly stressful environment, by not listening properly will cause mis communications, affected productivity and damaged reputation.
Active listening involves a sincere interest in listening to the other party. Maintaining eye contact by looking at the speaker directly, nodding, asking questions about what is being discussed, making pertinent comments and repeating what has been said (“My understanding of what you are saying is…). Facial expressions such as smiling, adjusting your posture which is open and inviting and even encouraging the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like “yes” plays a role in Active Listening.
People appreciate it when they see you listen to them carefully. Picking up and repeating certain key words used by the person you are listening to, avoiding become argumentative and acknowledging their issues or concerns can only be for the good.
Active listening does not mean you have to be completely silent. Providing feedback by reflecting what has been said by paraphrasing sentences such as “what I am hearing is” or “so what you are saying is” plays a role too. Asking questions to clarify points involves questions such as “What do you mean when you say…?” or even summarising what the speaker said periodically also shows the speaker you are interested and is listening carefully.
Good listeners produce a positive image. The positive image can expand into positive things. The relationship between people is crucial to any career success. To be able to clap requires two hands, likewise in improving relationships with the workplace involves good communications skills as well as good listening skills.
Gaining respect and the prospect of career advancement require many skills and one of the skills which can be easily mastered and practiced immediately is Active Listening.
Juri Yoshida is the Director, Consultant and Principal Corporate Trainer at NavExpress and the Vice President of Psycho Genomics Research Institute. He is also the author of “Increasing Sales Through Relationship Marketing.” Juri shares the importance of building positive relationships within the work place through active listening.