Active Listening and Its Importance in the Workplace
The art of effective listening is essential to clear communication, and clear communication is necessary for management success. -James Cash Penney
Active listening is when you are fully aware and concentrate on what is being said rather than passively hearing what the speaker is trying to convey.
The goal of active listening is to acquire information, listen to understand people and situation before responding to it. It is the conscious decision to listen and understand what people are trying to convey without being judgemental.
The listening ability can vary from person to person. But the good part is that it is a skill and can be acquired with time and patience. It is about focus and understanding and looking at things from different perspectives for the greater good.
Did you know, people spend between 70%-80% of their day engaged in some form of communication, and about 55% of their time is devoted to listening? But the question is, do they actively listen?
‘Active listening’ is the term first coined by psychologists, Carl Rogers and Richard Farson in 1957 in a paper of the same title.
‘Active listening is an important way to bring about changes in people. They indicate how clinical and research evidence clearly shows it as one of the most effective agents for individual personality change and group development. And also how active listening brings changes in peoples’ attitudes toward themselves and others; shaping their basic values and personal philosophy’.
Here I Discuss the Importance of Active Listening in the Workplace
You and your employees are happy when you meet each other’s respective goals. For an employer, it is the organizational success and for the employees, it is the tasks and objectives they are assigned to complete. It is therefore very vital to have trust in each other for healthy work experience.
We are aware of the fact that to build trust we must tick the following:
- To lend an ear.
- To be honest and supportive.
- To be non-judgemental.
- To have healthy communication.
To tick these points, one must have an understanding, which can be developed by active listening. This will help align your words and actions and help build trust.
Tip: Encourage the speaker, ask questions and be considerate.
Active listening has countless benefits when it comes to employee productivity .
In a workplace, when views and ideas of the employees are not heard by the higher management, it fuels employees’ resentment and results in low productivity. Proper feedback and actively considering views and ideas of the employees are vital for a healthy workplace and performance. Having said that, it is also important to assure that the communication flows from both the direction, only then a culture of mutual trust and understanding can be developed. It is always a two-way process.
Tip: Give and take effective feedback and acknowledge.
Conflicts and mishaps are inevitable in any workplace. The reasons for this can vary from a minor misunderstanding or a major debacle.
Misunderstandings, different viewpoints or a lack of recognition often creates conflicts in the workplace. There is nothing a good communication cannot resolve. Here when I say ‘good communication’, I mean active listening.
Often we fail to understand or respect other’s views because we never see things from their perspectives. Our sense of self-righteousness also interferes here. Active listening helps in recognizing other’s perspective and feelings and helps us appreciate them. This not only helps in resolving conflicts but also helps foster a culture of respect.
Tip: Try to understand others perspective before responding.
Strong Work Relationship:
It is important to form healthy work relationships in the workplace for a healthy work experience. A study conducted by Faye Doell in 2003 showed that there are two types of listening: ‘listening to understand’ and ‘listening to respond’.
People who listen to understand form better relationships and are more empathetic in their approach. The same holds true for work relationships. The more members in a workplace follow this approach, the better work relationships they form.
Tip: Be more empathetic and don’t rush to make a decision.
Self-empowerment helps you build your confidence and let go of your agendas. When you practice active listening and understand what is beneficial for you in the workplace, you expand your perspective in that direction and empower yourself. You become more aware of your work environment and you communicate with your peers and members of the organization with much ease and confidence.
Tip: Actively listen and see the body language of the people around. Be more open to learning from others.
Every company has its own company culture and each member adds value to it. The root of this culture starts with acceptance. Yes! Acceptance of its values and vision by all its members.
For an organization to succeed, both its employers and employees must be aligned with the common goal. It is, therefore, important for them to accept each other for their respective parts and actively listen to each other while carrying out their work duties.
And also, in the onboarding process of new employees, management must listen to their feedback and views on different aspects of the organization. This minimizes confusion and gives a sense of acceptance to them. Active listening can, therefore, be a great morale booster.
Tip: Show the verbal and non-verbal signs of interest.
Like I said earlier, active listening is a skill and can be acquired. And if you have reached up to this part of the blog, then I can assume that you would be willing to practice active listening in your workplace.
Hope the above-mentioned tips help you attain that or at least educate you on the topic.
Remember! Understanding, encouraging the speaker to speak, focus, and keeping broad perspectives is the key.