The Value of Active Listening for Business
Communication has two distinct components – the first is ‘Speaking’; getting your message across. The second is the less well known and often avoided ... ‘Listening’!
Most people are happy to launch into the speaking part of the interpersonal communication. If we give as much attention to active listening and include it in our conversations we cannot help but improve our communication skills… and that has got to be good for business.
Active listening techniques helps to build strong relationships; the more confident others are that you will listen without judgement; the more likely they are to share information.
Disagreements are less likely when you engage in active listening with questions. The use of questions enables us to confirm our understanding of the meaning during the act of communication.
Too often, during a conversation, we are thinking about what we are going to say next instead of actively listening to what is actually being said.
If our aim is to build better client relationships, increase our business, reduce miscommunication then we need to be increasing our communication skills and that means we should be paying attention to both parts Speaking and Listening. Many of us confuse ‘Hearing’ with the act of ‘Listening’, when we wake up on that spring morning we are hearing the morning chorus of bird song. However, if we want to differentiate between the individuals we need to listen very carefully for the specific song; and there is a difference.
So what is Active Listening and how can we practice it?
Well, here are some guidelines which might help us start out on this journey:
Engage both mind and body
An active listener is engaged both mentally and physically. Watch the speaker’s body language and facial expressions to learn their emotional attachment to their message.
Use feedback to support the communication
Let the speaker know that you are actively listening to them. Use your body language, nodding the head to encourage them and good eye contact. Use questions to draw out further information, “Do you think further research would clarify the situation?’
Do not interrupt
It is important to listen to the whole message before even forming an opinion. Listen all the way through, to understand the speaker’s position. Try not to impose your point of view while the other person is trying to communicate theirs. Don’t speak until you have heard what they have to say. Understanding can change our attitude.
Remember, there are two parts to communication – speaking and listening. Business is about communication, building relationships, like, knowing and trusting. When we are communicating effectively, we are ensuring our business is effective.
Are you actively listening?
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