Effective Communication and Better Listening Skills

When most people think of communication, they think about talking and passing along information, advice or opinions.  Effective communication also involves actively listening, knowing when to speak and when to stay silent.   Keep in mind that 85% of what we communicate is nonverbal so in addition to being patient, your face and actions must also be considered.  All organizations maintain that they value open communication, but few listen to their staff, customers and suppliers effectively.  Listening, like any other skill, needs to be developed, practiced and exercised.  As a leader, listen in the way your audience needs to communicate even if it’s not your style or preferred method.  For example, some people process information by talking so additional time may be required with them.

alf-listeningListening is critical in all aspects of our lives, both personally and professionally.  Effective listening will enable you to get more information, reduce conflict, show your team that you care and also foster teamwork, commitment and trust. Most of us sincerely believe we listen effectively, so we never develop our listening skills.  Luckily, there are a few simple suggestions that will get you started.  First you need to decide that you need to improve and put it at the top of your list.  Acknowledge listening as an important tool both in your individual meetings and group meetings.

  1. Get rid of distractions and be present
  2. Have an open door policy and be receptive to what you hear
  3. Keep non-verbal cues in mind (good eye contact, no fidgeting, etc.)
  4. Ask questions and offer reassurance
  5. Know when to stay silent

As your listening skills improve, you will understand your team members better and improve your relationship.  You will begin to discern if they need coaching or counseling because you will know what motivates them, what they value, and what drives them to succeed.

Consider these questions:
  1. Are you actively developing your listening skills and encouraging your team to do the same?
  2. Have you communicated an open-door policy to your team members or subordinates?
  3. Do your employees openly share and debate information with each other?

If you believe your organization needs training on more effective communication including improvement of listening skills, call our experts at 800-786-4332 or email Don at Dhadley@AppliedVisionWorks.com

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