Effective Listening

An important ingredient that runs through all good communication is listening. Listening is a skill that can be practiced and learned. Your goal as a listener is to fully understand your employee's experience and point of view. Give the employee a chance to talk for a while before you say anything.

  • Use non-verbal communication. Be aware of what you communicate with your body; your posture and expressions can convey your attitudes toward a speaker even before you say one word. Use body language to show the speaker that you are engaged in the conversation and open to hearing.
  • Recognize your own prejudices. Be aware of your own feelings toward the speaker. If you are unsure about what the speaker means, ask for clarification instead of making assumptions.
  • Listen to understand the underlying feelings. Use your heart as well as your mind to understand the speaker. Notice how something is said as well as the actual words used.
  • Don't interrupt: Be sure you think carefully before you speak. As a listener, your job is to help the speaker express himself.
  • Don't judge the person: A speaker who feels you are making judgments will feel defensive. Avoid making judgments and instead try to empathize and understand the speaker's perspective.
  • Do not give advice: Keep in mind that the best resolutions are those that people arrive at themselves, not what someone else tells them to do. If you feel it is appropriate, and only after you have encouraged the person to talk, offer some ideas and discuss them.