6 ways to become a better listener as a leader

November 19, 2019/5 mins min read
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In today’s fast-paced business world, people increasingly have more to do in shorter periods of time, often compromising communication. The importance of good communication between leaders and their colleagues is therefore even more vital to the success of the organization.

There are far greater opportunities for growth when you listen and learn from others. This can only be done when you give people the possibility to open up and express themselves. Encouraging a culture of listening can help the company to bypass any potential issues, give praise and motivate employees and make the workplace more effective and productive.

Although you may be thinking listening is a soft skill and may not give your business direct results, honing your listening skills will reap rewards in the long-term. For many managers, it is a career-long work in progress that demands effort to implement effectively and to make sure it is at the forefront of your business’s culture. This article will give you effective tips to help you improve your listening skills and become the best manager you can possibly be.

1. Set and lead by example

Practising what you preach encourages others to do the same as you. If you tell your employees to communicate more but you do not, you end up doing more harm and causing resentment. Employees will begin to think “why should I do that when my manager doesn’t?” People often get quite defensive when you tell them how to behave and you aren’t doing the same yourself. In order to foster an open and transparent culture, you should establish effective communication with every member of the team. A good idea is to have your work calendar set to open, to encourage transparency and also to enable anyone to find an appropriate time to have a chat.

2. Reflect

Encouraging reflection, and allowing the opportunity for employees to give their feedback is extremely important to the growth and progression of the organization. After meetings, introducing a Menti enables employees to ask anonymous questions without the pressure of thinking they may be judged. It also allows managers to continuously improve by listening to employees ideas and adapt to become better, resolve problems and avoid any potential issues.

Weekly Retrospective Meeting

Weekly Retrospective Meeting

3. Give them time

Be attentive, try not to rush your employees and don’t forget to pause. Not everything requires an answer straight away or a response. Sometimes just being a non-judgmental sounding board for others can greatly help them overcome certain problems whether it be within the organization or outside. Try to block out distractions such as background noises, phones or having your laptop open and receiving emails, it will make employees feel like you are not concentrating. Ultimately, you want your employees to feel like you care and that they can talk to you. Fidgeting and looking at the clock will make them feel rushed, clam up and more than likely not give their opinion or thoughts.

4. Ask questions

Asking questions shows you are interested and are actually engaging with the conversation and what they are saying. It also provides clarification and helps to avoid any misunderstandings that could crop up in the discussion. Be mindful not to jump in and interrupt someone by asking a question. Your questions should also be asked at an appropriate time, as questions can sometimes take a conversation off in a different direction and the employee won’t be able to go back and finish what they were saying.

5. Paraphrase & summarize

Use active listening skills to clarify the message and confirm that you are both on the same page. Paraphrasing can be used to demonstrate and back up that you have, in fact, been paying attention to what they have been saying and minimise any potential confusions. Summarizing what has been said is a great way to bring up the main points discussed and to highlight the key action points to move forward with.

6. Body language

Eye contact, gestures and posture are all really important to make your employee feel comfortable and show that you are actively listening to them. Eye contact is a natural part of engaging in a conversation but mixing it with smiles and gestures such as nodding can put the person at ease and reassure them. Posture can also be a telltale sign on how a piece of information is being received. If you sit there resting your head in your hands, most likely they will take it that you’re bored. The same goes for mirroring a person’s actions, which helps to show understanding and empathy in more sensitive situations.

In order to be the best manager, you have to put in the effort every day to reinforce good communication with your team. It is a daily learning process to practice and improve your good communication and that often starts with listening skills. Listening is crucial for both you as the manager and for the organization to be the most productive and effective as possible. In the long-term, the company will reap the rewards of good listening and it will help you to build a strong connection and forge good relationships with your team.

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