As a manager, one of the key skills you must master is the ability to listen. By listening attentively, and intentionally, your working relationships will improve. Your team members will feel valued and that what they say to you matters. It shows that you’re willing to understand and respect them.
You could think that listening is an easy thing to do but it’s not. We’re not talking about hearing; that’s a passive, involuntary, effortless occurrence. We’re talking about focused, intentional listening, or ‘active listening’, as it’s sometimes called.
Unfortunately, far too often when people talk to each other, they don’t listen attentively. They talk too much and don’t listen enough. They are often distracted; half listening, half thinking about something else, already composing their response in their mind. They listen to respond instead of listening to understand.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. Most people listen with the intent to reply”
Stephen R. Covey
The skill of intentional listening involves suspending all judgement, quietening your mind, and focusing 100% on the other person. It involves you giving them your undivided attention to truly understand what they are saying.
Really great listeners don’t just listen to the words that are spoken
They listen for the feelings behind what the person is saying which allows them to really tune into what is going on for that person.
They also do something else. They listen for what’s not being said, noticing body language or other clues that signify there’s additional information that is yet to be uncovered. They allow the time for that information to be shared, often asking open-ended questions to encourage the speaker to elaborate further.
Great managers know that intentional listening is an important skill to have. They know that when they make the time to listen to their team, to both their ideas and their concerns, they create an environment where mutual trust and respect grows, and workplace relationships thrive.
Are you listening with the intent to understand? Or are you listening with the intent to reply?
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