Every day we communicate with those around us. At work, as in our lives as a whole, we respond to the information we obtain.
Yet, so often, managers waste this valuable information gathering time by telling their own story, instead of listening to others and really hearing.
Listening closely is valuable because:-
- You show real interest in the other person, thus building strong, trusting relationships.
- You get great information, which can help you gather the ‘intelligence’ you need to the best decisions.
- Your people will tell you much more, once they realise that you take notice of what they are saying.
- It enables you to take up other’s ideas and thoughts which will add to whatever skills and capabilities you have.
- Hearing others will set them off thinking and developing themselves as they are triggered, by the thought flow which comes as they speak to you.
- Involving others closely not only creates better outcomes, but it also takes some of the burden from the top of the management tree.
- Your listening to one, encourages others to talk to you as the word gets out that you value the input from others.
How to do it – here are ten tips to get you started:-
- Pay full attention
- Avoid distractions or being disturbed
- Acknowledge what you hear by summarizing and reflecting back
- Make supportive noises
- Use supportive body language including facial expressions
- Ask follow up questions to what you hear
- Show further interest by coming back later for more
- Deliver some action towards what you hear
- Be supportive and accepting
- Ask for help and advice where they might be more of an expert than you
Listening is a hugely valuable contribution to making business relationships work.
Whilst you will have some input to getting the job done right yourself, the very best managers clarify the outcomes expected and let their people get on with delivery. A listening ear provides the support, encouragement and culture to let this happen naturally and constructively.
What’s more, the more you do it, the greater the involvement of your people and the better the return.
Martin Haworth is a Business and Management Coach. He works worldwide, mainly by phone, with small business owners, managers and corporate leaders. He has hundreds of hints, tips and ideas at his website, http://www.coaching-businesses-to-success.com.