Hopefully, we’ve reached the point where the COVID and variant vaccinations will support returning to the workspace, yet it is going to take some more time irrespective of the best-laid plans. It has been a whiplash journey, from now on listening will help manage the next new.
“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” ― Ralph G. Nichols
We deliberately are using the term “workspace” versus “workplace” because we have clearly learned the various virtual tools that have become so prominent are here to stay.
Much of what the next several years look like will result from how well we listen to those we work with and those we serve. We are creatures of habit, and many of those habits evolved in expected, and sometimes highly unexpected, ways as we have learned to manage in a serial uncertain environment.
As we do a brief review of the critical steps that achieve not only powerful listening but authentic listening, please regard them as modus operandi as you move forward, either as a team leader or team member.
Returning to the workplace brings back the opportunity to enhance our understandings of the body language our computer screens simply cannot convey. Even then, our listening skills may not be all they can be, thus the 10 steps to powerful listening we will be reviewing.
The good news is the remote workspace has taught us many things. First, the ability to adapt as best we can and the resiliency to do so. This has not been a walk in the park. Well, sometimes maybe it has been! That may have been our best opportunity to think through this adaption process. We know in talking with a number of our clients that walking could even begin the day versus a several-hour commute first thing.
So, as you look at the suggestions, do understand they have value over your career and lifetime. And share them with whomever. We have a more expansive version and if you would like that please let us know and we will forward them your way.
The Best Communicator is the best Listener…TM
The 10 Steps to Powerful Listening:
1. Stop talking to others and to yourself. You cannot listen if you are talking. Learn to still the voice within.
2. Focus. Don’t read your mail, doodle, shuffle or tap papers while others are talking.
3. Be attentive not only to what they are saying but also to what they are feeling! This includes body language to glean meanings beyond what is said to you.
4. Do not hijack a conversation by interrupting. Sit still past your tolerance level. The point when you would normally speak is a good point to begin to think about your response. Be mindful that an instant response, ill conceived, has little or no value.
5. Listen between the lines for implicit meanings, as well as the explicit ones. Instead of accepting a person’s remarks as the entire story, listen for things left unsaid or unexplained, which logically should be present. Ask for these.
6. Speak affirmatively when initially responding. Resist the temptation to jump in with an evaluative, critical, or disparaging comment at the moment a remark is uttered. Confine yourself to constructive replies until constructive, solution-based criticism can be offered without blame.
7. To ensure understanding, rephrase what the other person has just told you at key points in the conversation. This is the old ‘active listening’ technique, but it works.
8. Maintain eye contact. Without it, any response you give is seen as insincere and not taken seriously.
9. Listen and think from the other person’s viewpoint. That perspective offers you insight you might have missed, thoughts you might not have had, and ideas that could have high value to many others.
10. Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens.
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