Active Effectively ListeningWorking in human resources, or as I like to call it human “relationships,” I have had the chance to work with individuals on every level of the employment spectrum. Regardless of whether the title was manager, employee, CEO, or intern a common frustration that arises is communication in the workplace. Whether it is a manager or employee that is frustrated, it usually breaks down to one word. Listen.

Listen spells Silent:

Did you know that if you jumble up the letters in the word listen it spells silent? Often the workplace is so busy with that it is easy for managers and employees alike to forget to stop and listen to one another. As the above quip cleverly states, the first step to being an effective listener is to actually listen. In order to effectively listen in the workplace, when there is always more than one task at hand, one must first stop and be silent to listen to what is being said.

Easy Listening Tips for Managers:

Surveys show that 24% of employees feel that their managers do not listen to them. Often, as managers you may be used to giving instruction, assigning tasks or relaying constructive criticism. In an effort to make employees feel that their management team is listening and hearing their concerns and feedback. Supervisors should try and make time to pause for a moment during meetings with employees to hear what they have to say to contribute to the conversation. The moments directly after instruction, or criticism, are crucial for feedback, questions about expectations and comments from employees, and a chance for the management team to give additional thoughtful feedback. It is mostly important to allow each person to have moments to speak without interjection and interruption. Often the situation happens where each party begins talking over one another and you get no results from that type of conversation. Again, I emphasize in order to listen you must remain silent.

Offering employees and co-workers a moment to speak during every day conversation establishes a rapport, instills confidence in the workplace, and conveys to employees that supervisors care about their professional growth and personal well-being – two key elements to a happy healthy workforce. Many employees associate a mangers respect for them on their ability to listen to them. Respect and retention align with one another.

Listening and Feedback for Employees:

Sometimes listening to a manager has many challenges. We struggle with truly listening, with being silent and open minded during instructions, with paying attention to the specifics of an assignment or accepting constructive criticism. But, by learning to embrace these things it will allow employees to take in what is being said and apply it critically to both this problem and future problems. Remember, your co-workers and management team alike are there to support you and push you to be your best professional self.

Feedback is wonderful and appreciated, and it is important to know the appropriate forums and manner to communicate it in. For example, if an employee interrupts their supervisor during instruction the manger may worry that the employee won’t follow through on the details or, “doesn’t get it.” A manager wants to know you understand what has been said. If you interject before the manager is through speaking often they will be under the impression that “you didn’t get it”. Feedback, explanation, questions and accepting responsibility are all the talking points to hit in any communication between an employee and a manger to ensure the communication was effective. If employees can stop, remain silent, listen, and save feedback and questions for the moments of pause or the end of conversation it will leave a lasting impression on management and supervisors alike that “you really get it” and that you are able, willing and ready to be part of the team.

In the end, we get what we give:

The moral of the story is that in any relationship, whether professional or personal, both parties must respect one another enough to be silent, listen, and consider how their actions affect those around them. Often stopping to listen and give someone 5 short minutes of your time will pay off down the road, both in your professional relationships and productivity levels.

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