5 Tips for Becoming a Better Listener

listeningIn today's fast-paced work environment, it can be easy to dismiss the value of direct communication. Whether you're connecting via telephone, web conference, in the conference room or around the water cooler, you can improve workplace productivity by sprucing up your listening skills.

1. Create a Sharing Environment
Great listeners know the key to effective communication is being open and approachable. Foster better communication in your office by taking the time to listen to your co-workers without interrupting their train of thought. Not only are you improving workplace communication, you're also fostering a sense of transparency that builds trust and boosts company morale.

2. Show your Interest
There are a variety of ways to express your interest – even when you're not speaking face-to-face. Speakers naturally pause for effect and allow listeners to engage in the conversation. Show your interest with a simple affirmative. A quick "yes," or even a simple "uh-huh" can convey to your speaker that you're actively listening.

3. Remain Focused
Too often, we create our own distractions. Other meetings, other deadlines, and unfinished projects may be fresh in your mind. Set aside these thoughts and focus your attention to the matter at hand to ensure you do not miss any key ideas.

4. Don't Judge
We're all guilty. Push away impulses to cut into the conversation, speak over someone, jump to conclusions before the speaker is finished, or attempt to finish someone else's thought. Wait until the end of the conversation before adding your comments or suggestions.

5. Ask Questions
Asking questions reduces the opportunities for misunderstandings, and guarantees that you've understood any instructions or project details shared during the conversation. A great rule of thumb when conducting teleconferences is to offer a summary near the end of the call. Repeat key ideas, and confirm understanding of any requests or instructions you were given.

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