When you evaluate your own manners in a corporate setting, do you pay closer attention to the words you say or the words you hear? It can be easy to get wrapped up in the performance piece of etiquette and forget about the importance of listening skills.
You can become a better listener! Listening may not be quantitative, but it’s critical for you to reach success in your personal and professional life. Whether you’re a new hire or you’re managing a team, you should always listen before you speak.
What’s The Importance Of Listening Skills For Different Corporate Roles?
Don’t underestimate the importance of listening skills in your career! No matter what your position is, listening is key to your success. Have a look at the breakdown between listening skills for new-hires and experienced managers in the workplace.
Importance Of Listening Skills For New Hires
As a new hire, you need to understand that many office teams move fast. Listening well is the only way to keep up and know when to ask questions (and which questions to ask).
It doesn’t resonate well with most senior team members when you ask the same questions multiple times in a row or completely disregard or misinterpret information that was given previously (even if you’re doing so accidentally).
Take notes! Demonstrate that the words you hear matter to you.
Observation helps you learn the ropes more quickly. Pay close attention to your teammates in order to better understand directions and expectations.
The earliest weeks in a new position are mostly for listening! Wait until you have enough information to start offering input or trying to make improvements.
Importance of Listening Skills For Managers:
The importance of listening skills is equal for managers. Let’s say you’ve been with your team for around five years. You know them well and can practically finish their sentences!
Resist the urge to tune out. A good manager knows to be present for their team and understands what’s going on in day-to-day operations. But a great manager knows to listen for feedback and ask for input regularly.
Here are a few ways to emphasize the importance of listening skills:
- Check in with your team members to evaluate their work-life balance
- Plan regular meetings with key players to gain insights on things you might’ve missed
- Invite team members to sit down in your office and give them the fullest attention when they’re describing problems or concerns
If you want to improve your listening skills to optimally support your team, bring in an expert from The American Academy of Etiquette. A professional can disclose the most meaningful tips and tricks to become the most attentive listener.
How To Improve Your Listening Skills
Think of listening as an art form—one where you can refine and improve your skills with proper practice. How can we become an impeccable listener, especially with so many “devices” at our fingertips to distract us?
Check out five listening practices that will help you make the most of attentive listening.
Always Let Others Finish Their Statements
When engaging in conversation with another person, always let them speak and complete their thoughts first. You can respond after they’ve completely finished sharing their ideas.
Practice being comfortable in silence when listening and processing what you’ve heard. That helps you to respond effectively and voice relevant opinions to build ideas.
Note: listening to build on ideas in a conversation is different than simply hearing words and waiting for your turn to reply. Really try to digest what the other person or people have to say.
Take Notes To Stay On Track
There’s no rule that says you need to memorize every piece of important information that comes your way. Take notes whenever you’re participating in a meeting, receiving instructions, or feedback for a specific project.
It helps to capture what the speaker is saying and write down your own thoughts and comments in the margins. This dual listening and processing approach prevents interruptions that may cause delays or frustrations.
Of course, find the right moment to state your opinions. Don’t feel pressured to say something unless it’s truly pertinent and adds value to the conversation.
Avoid Distractions and Stay Focused
Put your phone away or close your laptop. Give others the gift of your undivided attention! The importance of listening skills can’t be truly realized if you’re splitting your ears (and brain) with the devices around you.
Think about how it feels when you have something important to say and your audience looks down or glances away to acknowledge a distraction in the room. It’s not a great feeling.
Instead, make eye contact with the person speaking. Whenever possible, ignore the bings and rings of technology around you.
Practice Active Listening
Try to visualize other people’s words as they’re speaking. This active-listening trick will help you make sense of what others are saying so you can (eventually…there’s no rush!) respond with helpful insights.
Visualization goes a long way to help you focus on what others are saying (instead of trying to formulate how you’re going to respond).
It also helps to act interested (even if you’re really not). A gentle nod and steady gaze are extensions of courtesy—and things you probably expect when you’re the one speaking. It’s downright rude to reveal boredom when you’re in the listener’s shoes.
Start Recognizing Your Own Behavior
It can be hard to recognize the importance of listening skills depending on your own mindset and personality traits. We all have unique strengths and weaknesses in a conversational setting: what are yours?
Take time to recognize your behaviors when you’re listening and responding to someone. Are you an extrovert? Do you do more talking or more listening?
If you’re a big talker, try to slow down and leave space for other people to share ideas. Challenge yourself to build off of other points in the conversation, rather than simply chiming in with separate, disconnected ideas.
When in doubt, write it out! Take a moment to journal after key meetings and reflect on what was said. Taking time to purposefully digest after each big conversation is a great way to boost your listening skills. And before long, active listening will be like second nature!
The importance of listening skills stems far beyond the information being exchanged in conversation: it improves your confidence and the way others see you in a professional context. It may be challenging to respectfully listen to every word others have to say, but it’s crucial to your success.
We can’t control how someone speaks to us (or the message they want to share), but we can become better listeners! A professional can help you and your team improve your listening skills— to optimally support your team, bring in an expert from The American Academy of Etiquette.