Training Consultants Top 4 Tips on Active Listening
TRAINING CONSULTANTS - Communication is an automatic to all of us. At many points throughout the day we find ourselves interacting with our spouses, colleagues, children and friends without giving much thought to how we’re doing it. With communication being so widespread and natural, why is doing it effectively so difficult to many of us?
Truth is, it takes time, motivation, patience, effort and expertise to communicate effectively. Choosing the right words, listening with our minds instead of just our ears and understanding the content from the other persons perspective are skills many of us can work on. As individual leaders in today’s fast-paced corporate landscape, it has become even more important to develop the skills of effective communication – both as a speaker and a listener. This need has been answered with an influx of recent custom-tailored leadership development training programs.
We asked our leadership development consultants for tips on effective corporate communication. A common belief is that one of the biggest barriers to communication is not listening.
THE POWER OF LISTENING
Expressing our thoughts, ideas, wants and needs is only half of the communication process. The other half is listening and understanding the other person. Research shows that we only hear 25-50% of what is said by the other person. That means that in a 10 minute conversation, the other person hears only about 2 ½ to 5 minutes of the conversation. Listening is the processing of absorbing the meanings of words that leads to understanding of facts and ideas. Listening is not simply hearing what another says.
Tips towards Active Listening
The skill of Active Listening is to help the speaker feel understood while truly engaging that person throughout the conversation to ensure both sides are communicating effectively. It is one of the single most useful skills for both personal and leadership effectiveness. Our leadership development consultants provide 4 easy to follow tips and examples on strengthening your active listening skill.
1) Repeat the content of the communication. Because “parroting” can be annoying, you may want to do this mentally only. Mentally repeating the speaker’s words keeps you focused and your mind from wandering.
2) Rephrase. Summarize the speaker’s meaning in your own words. Like repeating, rephrasing what the other person is saying keeps you focused. In order to paraphrase what was said, the listener is required to suspend comments and let the speaker finish before responding. It also allows the speaker to correct any misunderstanding or affirm your understanding.
- A team member says to you, “I do not understand why this change is being made and how if fits in with everything else we are doing.”
- Rephrase: Sounds like you would like more clarity around the purpose of the change and how it fits with our other priorities, right?
3) Listen for What Is Not Being Said. Hear not only the words the person is saying, but try to understand the total message being sent. Read between the lines, and put it into words.
- Your teammate says, “I know this process has worked in other companies, but I am just not sure we have the resources and experience we need to implement it here.”
- Statement of what is not being said: It sounds like the speaker may be worried about the organizations skills and abilities.
4) Acknowledge the Emotion. Acknowledge not only what was said, but the emotion that the speaker is expressing. Our training consultants state that, when we attend to the emotional (e.g., frustration) as well as the cognitive message (represented by words), we are better equipped to understand the feeling and meaning as well as the content. In order to reflect the feelings expressed, the listener must listen with not only their ears, but with the eyes and heart also. Observe non-verbals for clues.
- One of your peers says, “Here we go again. We tried this a couple of years ago! It did not work then, and it will not work now!”
- Statement that acknowledges the emotion: It sounds like you have been frustrated about past changes that have occurred.”
One last note….
To compliment the tips mentioned above, try using the following phrases to assure the communicator that you have acknowledged an understood what they are saying.
- Sounds like you are saying…
- Let me see if I understand…
- So, you see it as…
- What I think I am hearing is…
- What I think you mean is…
- You place a high value on…
- You are feeling that…
- You must have felt...
These phrases can be helpful when practicing Active Listening. They can be used as stems as you rephrase, acknowledge what is not being said and the emotion expressed by the speaker.
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