How Active Listening Makes You a Better Leader
Apr 02, 2023 · 7 mins read ·People Management
Listening in the modern, digital workplace can be more complex than ever. Our attention is constantly being vied for by waves of information. You immediately enter the next conference as you gather your thoughts after one meeting.
Many leaders lack this understanding and have never been taught to listen well.
But what sets a great leader apart from an average manager? The answer frequently includes soft skills, such as active listening, that help leaders connect with their team.
Building trust begins with effective communication between team leaders and members. Your team members are more likely to openly share their thoughts and offer candid feedback when they feel heard.
Employee engagement and successful business results, such as creativity, productivity, and profitability, are consequently fueled by active listening.
You must encourage a discussion to foster an environment where individuals feel valued for their contributions. Top leaders must set an example for the entire organization, set expectations, and demonstrate active listening.
What is active listening?
Focused listening, comprehension of what is being said, meaningful responses, and reflection are all skills needed for active listening.
Active listening is an essential leadership skill because it enables us to receive critical information, understand the context to support the employee experience, spot opportunities or hurdles, and collaborate to accomplish shared objectives.
Active listening can facilitate better communication between you and your team as a method for enhancing leadership abilities.
While active listening originates in therapeutic settings, it also has valuable applications in the workplace when used within practical constraints.
Active listening aims to comprehend the message in its entirety, including any feelings that might be communicated nonverbally in addition to the spoken word.
It makes sense for a leader to sum up the situation in the workplace and then reply appropriately.
Employee engagement is greatly influenced by each team member feeling appreciated and knowing their leader values and respects them.
Why is active listening important?
Active listening is crucial because it promotes mutual trust between the parties.
Empathy is a powerful tool for promoting psychological safety. Your role as a partner, friend, colleague, coach, and mentor will be strengthened by practicing active listening, asking questions, getting clarification, and encouraging people to express their viewpoints.
You can more successfully coach others, thanks to active listening. Your coworkers and direct reports will appreciate you more if you are a good listener, and your relationships with them will probably improve.
How to improve your active listening
The benefits of active listening become apparent as you start using them in various contexts, including at work, in social settings, and your personal and professional relationships.
Here are some tips to improve your active listening:
Approach every conversation to learn something
Consider the person you are communicating with as someone who can teach you, regardless of your skill level.
Have an agenda-free attitude and an open mind. Wait a moment before answering. Then, the next time you listen to a coworker, try telling yourself, "teach me." It will pique your interest and make you more receptive to learning.
Also, it will encourage you to say less and listen more.
Talk to a halt and pay great attention to the speaker
Resist the impulse to multitask or to consider your following line of speech. Instead, show you care by being present. Your nonverbal cues to the speaker demonstrate your level of interest.
Pay close attention to what they have to say. Making the time to pay attention is essential because it shows that the speaker's words are important.
To truly concentrate on the words you are listening to and their intention, clear your calendar, put your phone away, and reduce distractions.
Start the conversation and direct it
The key to effective communication is to facilitate dialogue that keeps the speaker and listener fully involved in a two-way conversation.
Broad, open-ended questions that encourage discussion and signal to the speaker that you are interested in learning more should be used to start and lead the conversation.
Understanding how and why individuals feel the way they do is as important as paying attention to what they say.
Avoid asking questions that can only be replied to with a simple "yes" or "no"; this is your chance to get the employee's point of view; make the most of it.
Encourage with positive feedback
Even if you disagree with the speaker's words, express gratitude for their willingness to describe it.
If you notice that a speaker is struggling to make a point or lacks confidence, support them by smiling, nodding, or asking a question that will demonstrate your desire to learn more.
Take all you hear in
Active listening involves the art and talent of observing what is not being expressed. Recognize that the actual message may be conveyed verbally, nonverbally, or emotionally.
One technique to look for genuine understanding is to observe body language. For example, voice inflection, crossed arms, and lack of eye contact are frequent indicators of the message being conveyed.
Keep the discussion going so you don't miss the opportunity to learn the real story and the person's sentiments behind it.
Pay close attention to your answers
Remember that your response to a question also constitutes a part of the dialogue. Even if you disagree with the other person's viewpoint, respect their right to it and keep an open mind. Ask for feedback, but be ready to act on it.
Employee input won't be as likely to come from them in the future if you don't show that you value their insights.
Even though you might not have all the answers, reassure the people you are speaking with that you will consider their concerns and that you are committed to keeping the door open for further discussion.
Active listening aims to focus entirely on what is being said to create shared comprehension, not only to absorb information.
It requires effort and repetition, but the benefits can significantly improve a person's ability to form relationships, attract followers, and produce overall results.
Demonstrating empathy for what others are feeling and expressing fosters a sense of connection with your coworkers.