Active listening is a must-skill for professional growth
Communication is the essence of any relationship. That’s a given. You will find it quite a cliche statement to begin with. But here’s the catch. Whenever we talk about communication, the first thought that comes to our mind is “holding meetings, initiating conversations, sending emails, and whatnot. The idea of communication often revolves around you saying something to send across your vision, ideas, or strategies.
Honestly, that’s true. But we often forget the importance of listening, or should we say mindful listening, to get on with the next steps. If you are an active listener and should skip this article altogether, take the quiz below and then only move on to the next sections.
Imagine a meeting. It was a 90-minute engaging conversation with your team. Now take a quick mental run-through and tick the boxes mentioned below:
- Did I let other team members speak without any interruption?
- Did I try to see things from their perspective or point of view?
- Did I show interest when other team members were sharing their opinions?
- Did I “listen between the lines” to understand the implicit meanings?
- Did I resist that urge to jump to disparaging comments?
- Did I respond clearly?
- Did I show empathy?
- Did I treat the person with respect?
If the answer is “No” to any of the questions mentioned above, you must read the article to learn the art of active listening or polish your skills.
But before that, let’s brush up on a few things.
Active listening: What’s its value?
Let’s think. Imagine yourself in a conversation with a friend. How would you feel when you are saying something, and they aren’t allowing you to finish? How would you feel if they passed judgements without knowing your side of the story? If it happens constantly, you start ignoring the person, right?
But if the person is making an effort to understand and responds after listening clearly and is engaged, you feel you are valued, right? That’s how active listening can be a game changer for you at work (and in your personal life).
Want to know more?
- It helps you build trust since everyone will know you will allow them to speak without any interruptions or judgements. Hence, they will confide in you, which is good for long-term working relationships.
- It helps you build genuine connections. It’s really easy to understand. Since you will be willing to listen, everyone will feel motivated to communicate with you regularly. This allows you to collaborate with others and start high-intensity projects.
- It helps you understand various topics since you can retain information. You will be open to learning new things and gaining knowledge which will help you be “future-ready.”
- It helps you identify challenges and provide solutions. Since you will listen more and communicate your vision and comprehend theirs, it will become easier to address the situation.
But that’s not all!
Having active listening as a skill can help you find a better job opportunity for yourself. Here’s how!
While you might think using active listening is only helpful during interviews. It can also help you with your job search. For example, you can easily “read between the lines.” You can identify the tone of the post. Whether it’s formal, casual or too frantic. This could help you divide whether you should apply for the job.
So, now you have all the reasons why active listening is important. The next step will be finding ways to imbibe this skill, right? Let’s dive deeper right away!
Active listening techniques to try
The following techniques can help you take care of different situations at work. They will act as a foundation whether you are having conversations, lectures, interviews, or a client meeting.
Intent and purpose are important
If you aren’t conscious or receptive to the other person, the foundation of active listening will be weak. The first important aspect of this skill is that you have to be mindful. That’s the only way to understand or empathise while having conversations. Honestly, the technique is simple. It’s about being in your present moment. So, when you do that, you won’t be interrupting, daydreaming, or comprehending the context based on your judgments.
Body language matters
A lot of us believe that only words have the power of communication. But your unconscious gestures also have a way of conveying information. It could be hand gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, or touch. Did you know that in a face-to-face conversation, communication is usually 55% nonverbal, 38% vocal, and 7% words?
This is why focusing towards body language matters a lot. You need to consider how your message is perceived. Here are some scenarios where you can use this aspect of active listening.
In a workplace, when a manager is giving you feedback or explaining details about a new project, maintain eye contact and nod, angling towards them. This way, they will know you are listening and retaining. In the same way, you can figure out whether someone is listening to what you have to say.
Don’t miss out on the verbal cues
Verbal cues are like prompts for the speaker to get a response or a reaction from a listener. Using cues like “yes, I see” or “I understand,” along with nodding, will help the speaker determine whether you are paying attention.
Paraphrasing information helps you double-check the information
Sometimes even if you are attentive, there might be miscommunication. This is why clarification of information is important. This will allow you to fill any gaps and avoid any issues at later stages. For instance, you can get going like this:
“You just talked about this new proposal and expected me to carry out these tasks, is that right?”
Paraphrasing is good. But if you want to be clear even more, ask questions. It will eliminate all the confusion. You can also show interest by asking open-ended questions so the speaker can encourage an exciting idea. This can help you nurture the bond with the speaker.
No judgments whatsoever
When practicing this skill, you must stay open, neutral, and non-judgemental. That’s how you can engage with new ideas, perspectives, or opportunities and open many doors.
Reflect on what you have learned and summarise all the learnings to take the following steps.
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