“You’re not listening to me!”

“They never pay attention to what I’m saying.”

“I have nothing worthwhile to add.”

Effective listeningIn a technology oriented, high-speed work environment, communication is important. However, as people become more stressed and have more things to check off their to-do lists, effective listening fades into the background.  To ensure that you are building stronger workplace relationships, resolving conflict, and improving your workplace environment, here are five tips that develop effective listening skills.

Effective Listening Tip #1: Be Fully Present

The next time someone wants to talk to you or asks for your attention, be sure you attend to that person. Close your computer, place your papers and mail to the side, and look them in the eye.

Part of being fully present to someone when listening means being physically present and intentional with your body language. Try not to stare out the window, scan the room, or check your phone. Give someone your undivided attention, even if only for five minutes. This instantly improves your communication. Eye contact is a key ingredient for being fully present and actively listening.

Effective Listening Tip #2: Keep An Open Mind

Do not jump to conclusions or finish someone’s thought. Following what you think is true or what you think someone is going to say because they talk slowly, inhibits your effectiveness as a listener.

Keep an open mind. Truly consider what someone is bringing before you. If at the end of the conversation you still feel unsettled or alarmed, try to pinpoint what made you uncomfortable. Make judgments wisely and in a way that does not compromise your listening skills.

Effective Listening Tip #3: Only Ask Clarifying Questions

If you always find yourself interrupting someone in order to prove a point or to show their lack of knowledge, then take a mental step back from the situation. Bulldozing a speaker by interrupting their train of thought only makes the situation worse. Rather than feeling heard, the speaker may feel attacked or that their point is being swept aside.

Along the same lines, be sure to ask constructive questions. If you find yourself asking questions that are unrelated to the topic or situation at hand, you are probably leading the conversation down a rabbit hole…one that the speaker does not intend. Make sure that you are truly listening. If the conversation does stray from the speaker’s point, get the conversation back on track. You may miss an important piece of information if you do not.

Effective Listening Tip #4: Watch For Non-Verbal Cues

Along the same lines as maintaining good eye contact, it is also important to watch for non-verbal cues. You can learn a lot about a person by the things they choose not to say and the tone of voice they use.

Be aware of the person’s general demeanor. Do they seem excited, aggravated, or bored? Maintaining eye contact means you pay attention to these non-verbal cues, and gain even more information. This helps you become a more effective listener.

At the end of a conversation, it is helpful to summarize! If an employee sought you out to organize an event, clearly summarize the things you agreed upon, who will follow-through on certain activities, and what obligations you each have. Though short, this quick outline confirms that you were fully attentive and care enough about the conversation to solidify what was discussed.

Want to learn how to be a more effective listener?

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Copyright TIGERS Success Series, Inc. by Dianne Crampton

Project Team CultureAbout TIGERS Success Series, Inc.

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