Skill development is an important part of any human’s growth. All of us want to keep improving our skills. However, this is not just for résumés, it is also very helpful in building a great personality. Important exams, as well as entrance tests, pay a lot of attention to these skills. They make questions that test your skills. People don’t often pay a lot of attention to writing, speaking and reading as skills. However, there is another important skill that gets the least amount of importance: Active listening.
Do you like it when you keep talking while others are busy doing something else? A speaker always likes to be heard as well as understood. However, people don’t realise the difference between hearing and listening. Everyone takes listening for granted. Having an ear that can hear is just not enough. Your ear must be actively absorbing all information too. Such listeners facilitate good communication. Therefore, people with this soft skill have an edge in the workplace. Such a skill can help build your value as an employee.
A good workplace is one where communication is smooth. It is a place where managers and leaders are able to delegate work as well as get good output. All this can be made possible with good listening skills.
In pochi punti:
What Is Active Listening?
So, what does this term actually mean? This is the process by which you pay full attention to whatever is being said. You are not just hearing, but actually engaging with the speaker. Engaging is not always an interaction. It can also be retaining the speaker’s words as well as reflecting on them. Active listening is when your full focus is on the speaker and their words. It is not just passively hearing the speaker’s words.
It is listening but with all your senses aboard. But, it is also about observing the speaker. An active listener can comprehend a lot more than what is being said. You must showcase a good attitude towards the speaker. Small things like eye contact and head-nodding go a long way too. Even active facial expressions while listening to the speaker are very encouraging. You will notice how speakers tend to look at people who they think are actively listening.
Why is Active Listening Important?
Active listening is very important. However, its importance increases even more in a professional environment or a workspace. Here are a few benefits of being an active listener:
- Builds trust and relationships: Active listeners listen with no prejudice. They listen attentively without having any second thoughts. Having people like that to speak to helps build trust. You create an environment for others to freely speak with you. This also helps you build connections. People like collaborating and discussing things with good listeners. Therefore, this skill is very helpful while building professional contacts and meeting new customers
- Identify and resolve problems: A good listener comprehends well. As an active listener, You will ask more questions and understand things deeper. Therefore, you will be able to anticipate problems before anyone else. This is the same case in terms of workplace relations too. Good listeners tend to know problems between two people and can easily help find a good solution.
- Avoid Missing Information: It is very common for listeners to miss out on small details. It’s tough to keep up with everything during business meetings and conferences. However, active listening helps avoid missing any important information.
- Gain knowledge: If you are able to remember the smallest things about the speaker. You are also bound to remember a lot of information. Active listeners tend to absorb plenty of information around them. Be it small or big, their active listening keeps making them a great asset to any company.
- Broadens perspective: A good listener always tries to listen without any second thoughts. This helps the listener look at a problem or situation from various points of view. Having a broad perspective is a very good aspect.
- Saves time and money: Finally, an active listener avoids making mistakes thereby saving money and time.
The Best Active Listening Techniques
Following are some steps you can follow to ensure you are listening actively:
- Attention: Try making notes in your head while the speaker speaks. Keep your phone on silent and give the speaker all your focus. However, don’t think about what you are going to say later. Pay all your attention to only the speaker.
- Don’t judge: People who are not open-minded tend to already make a mindset about the speaker. Therefore, they may listen with the wrong intention.
- Feel free to clarify: it is okay to ask questions. This in fact shows you are more engaged and interested. It also helps you gain any clarity you require.
- Reflect: Reflecting on what you have heard helps keep things in perspective. You actually end up gaining a much better understanding of what the speaker was talking about.
- Summarise: It is always great to summarise whatever you think you have understood. You may summarise this for yourself as well as the speaker. When you summarise the learnings to the speaker. The speaker may add more details to it as well as clear any of your misunderstandings.
- Sharing: Finally, active listening is just not restricted to listening. It is about giving back a thoughtful response. This may be feedback or even any of your own personal thoughts. This broadens your perspective as well as helps you gain more knowledge.
Top 5 Active Listening Examples
Below are a few active listening examples that are often used:
- Open-ended questions: This is a great way to show that you have heard the speaker and you have an interest in knowing more. For instance, if a colleague has been sharing some marketing tactics with you. You could ask him, “What tactics do you think may work for an organisation like ours?”
- Verbal affirmations: No one enjoys giving a monologue. You at least want to know if you are being heard. Verbal affirmations show a speaker that you are engaged and understanding them. This will make any speaker feel more comfortable while talking to you. Small affirmations like “that’s true!”, “That makes sense”, “I agree with you”, and “I see” go a long way.
- Sharing relatable situations: Sharing a situation that has happened with you as well makes a speaker feel you are listening. In addition, it may also help build a better bond. For instance, you may have your employer talking about previous issues with an employee. You could add on with “Yes, I understand. I had to deal with a colleague like that too.”
- Paraphrasing: This is a very common way used by effective listeners. This is also an excellent way of clearing information you might have misunderstood. For instance, your boss has just explained the new filing system to you. You ask him a question like “You just want me to colour code them and then sort them year-wise?”
- Recalling old information: People generally like it when someone remembers things they have mentioned earlier. This makes them feel you are dependent and know your work well. For instance, imagine your boss having a different take on an email copy he did last week. “Sir, but you said we had to make it sound conversational last week.”
Tips and Best Practices
Given below are some tips you can keep in mind while trying active listening:
- Eye contact and posture: Always maintain eye contact with your speaker. This shows your interest as well as helps you not get distracted. Also, try having an open posture. Don’t sit closed or defensively.
- Don’t jump to conclusions: People often come with a certain mindset. Such people judge and decide what the speaker means in their heads. Therefore, come with a clear and open mind instead. Be ready to welcome new thoughts and perspectives.
- Don’t interrupt: Listen and wait for the speaker to complete. Don’t keep planning what to say next too.
- Pay attention to non-verbal cues: People often end up conveying more through their body language and voice. Pay more attention to these cues. You may gain insight into their personality and personal opinions.
- Always show you are listening: Use different ways to show that you are paying attention. This encourages the speaker and opens them up for more conversation. Be it questions or facial expressions, show that you are listening.
Anyone can perk up their ears and start hearing. However, only a few can pay full attention both mentally and physically. Having a good attention span isn’t easy. The mind tends to wander and get distracted. Therefore, active listening is a touch skill to excel at. It requires a lot of patience and practice. Active listening is also a very selective skill. An active listener doesn’t start actively listening to anyone and everyone. We all pay full attention only when we want to. However, this soft skill is extremely important to have as a working professional. It is not easy but also not impossible!
What are your opinions about active listening? Do you think it is this important? Let us know in the comment section below.