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The power of active listening

Practice effective listening to become a great leader. By Priya Prakasan

Listening is a key skill in communication. And it takes time and effort to hone this skill to listen effectively. It is key to finding solutions, mitigating conflict, building strong relationships, as well as have better social interactions. All of these help you become a better, more effective leader. Here are five ways to help you listen well.

Set your ego aside
One of the biggest mistakes we make during a conversation is to worry about what we’re going to say next, so that we miss out on what the other person is saying. We’re so wrapped  up in our end of the conversation, wanting our opinions validated or our ego massaged that we rob ourselves of the opportunity to gather information and learn something new. So set aside your ego, humble yourself, and do the other person the courtesy of actually listening to them.

Hone your focus
Listening well implies you are actively engaged in your conversation with another person. So you are channelling your attention intentionally in a specific direction. This is a key step in becoming a better listener. When you start with an intentional approach, you allow yourself to focus where you want to pay attention and avoid any other distractions. Instead of focusing on your thoughts, what you want to say next, or wondering how you can control the situation, listen attentively to what the person in front of you has to say. Create your focus by being intentional about your actions.

Work to understand various aspects of the conversation
One of the reasons leaders practice active listening is to gain a better insight into situations and people, as well as build effective relationships. They do this by engaging in the 360 degree conversation. They explore different angles and perspectives to gain a better understanding. This helps them learn more and ensures they don’t miss out on something important during the discussion.

Watch for nonverbal cues
Verbal communication is only one way that people communication. One can learn a lot from body language, inactions, facial expressions, and pitch and tone of voice. They often are clues to what people are actually thinking or feeling. So train yourself to pay attention to these nonverbal cues.

Be empathetic, don’t judge
Empathy is an essential quality leaders should possess. When you are empathetic to your workforce and make yourself available for emotional interactions it has a positive impact on your relationship with them. Empathy also makes you open to different approaches and styles, keeping judgement at bay. If you’re judging the person, it’s likely you aren’t truly listening to them. Your judgement reveals your inability to embrace differences and disinterest in learning.

Photograph: Pressfoto – Freepik.com 

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