Everyone knows that communication is a valuable skill when it comes to managing people. But the reality is that there are two parts to communication: talking and listening. And some would argue that listening is the more important part. You should be hearing more than just what you want to hear and more than just the answers to your questions. Instead, you want to probe for more information to improve the quality and quantity of what you’re hearing. Here are some tips to become a better listener and thus, a better manager.
Put down your phone, close your laptop, and give the person you’re speaking to your complete, undivided attention. Focus on being mindful and hearing every word they say—and the hidden messages that linger in what they don’t say. Take note of their tone, facial expressions, and any other body language they’re displaying. If you’re stressed, hurried, exhausted, or distracted by other emotions, do your best to put that aside and focus on what’s being said.
Try to remain quiet for 80% of each conversation and speak for only 20% of the time. And recognize when a conversation is over and when you’re simply wasting time or spinning your wheels in frustration.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Think about where they’re coming from, how they’re feeling, and why they’re telling you what they’re telling you. Try to understand not just what they’re saying, but the motives and emotions behind it.
Instead of approaching each conversation with an employee like you’re about to teach a lesson, treat each conversation as a learning opportunity for yourself and keep asking questions. In fact, challenge assumptions and work to understand what your employees are really telling you. If it helps you maintain focus, create a mental image of the information being communicated. Whether you’re actually envisioning a story or just mentally constructing an arrangement of abstract concepts, this will help you concentrate and stay fully alert.
Be an Active Listener
Show that you’re listening by repeating key points or asking them to clarify anything you didn’t understand. Don’t spend the time they’re talking planning how you’re going to respond and don’t reply with a story about your own accomplishments. Focus completely on what they’re saying and use the time after to demonstrate that you truly heard what they’ve explained.
Listening takes time and patience, but when you learn how to focus on a conversation, make others feel respected, and focus on what’s really important, you can uncover information that’s crucial to your business. For more tips on improving your management skills, contact our team today.