Information is coming at us from so many different directions these days that it’s difficult to process it all. Our attention can be fragmented by multitasking and technology, and a lot of information is lost in communication due to misunderstandings or simple forgetfulness. That’s why listening is such an important skill to possess, especially if you’re in a leadership position.
Work on your listening skills.
You may find yourself having a hard time focusing on what you’re hearing from your employees. If this is the case, start from the beginning. Make sure you’re looking directly at the person in front of you. Don’t look around the room, and definitely don’t look at your watch. Be silent until they’re finished speaking, and fight the temptation to interrupt, even if you think you know where they’re headed. Often by brushing up on these basic skills, you’ll find your listening improving.
Good things happen when you pay attention.
When you listen, you’re showing respect for the person who is talking. Not only does this make them feel like a valued employee, but it also inspires them to respect you as well. This creates a positive cycle, and is one of the most important building blocks for workplace relationships.
Not everyone speaks up.
Listening is more than just paying attention to one person. It’s also paying attention to your office as a whole. In any given workplace, there are likely to be employees who give feedback freely, as well as employees who are more on the quiet side. Part of listening is knowing when to seek input from your quieter workers so that everyone’s ideas and concerns are heard and given equal weight.
If you listen, you can diagnose problems before they get out of hand.
History is full of businesses that went under because they didn’t adapt. In many cases, it’s not that the leadership was unwilling to adapt, but they didn’t know that it was necessary. Staying dialed in to what’s happening in your office, and the marketplace in general, can help you find issues that you need to address. Often you can catch them – and fix them – before they become a bigger problem.
Do you struggle with listening? Visit our Staffing Resource Center for tips about human resources, or if you need help with scalable workplace solutions, we’re always here to listen to your needs.