Listening: The Forgotten Art of Communication in the Workplace
- Tuesday January 21st, 2014
Listening is something that we all say we do, but do we really? To be a good listener, one must have good listening skills. Yes, there are skills necessary to successfully communicate with others. Somewhere along the way, some of us have lost these skills and we need to retrain ourselves whether that is done through a formal higher education or not.
Communication is a two-way street regardless if the conversation is between two or more people. It also doesn’t matter where we are; we could be in the elevator or in the conference room. We could be in academic jobs or service jobs; solid communication skills are a must. It comes down to this: If one is not giving their full attention to the speaker, what information is being missed?
Everybody has some wisdom to share: Everyone has something to say, regardless of the importance of it. However, we should still actively listen to the person who is speaking. While we are doing this, we need to be silent until the speaker has finished. Once the speaker has spoken their last word then we may be able to speak. How often do you actually see these last several sentences in action? Do we see it in higher education positions only? Do we see it in academic jobs only? Do we see it at the park or at the grocery store?
Why should we actively listen? Actively listening reflects on you and the speaker. If you are really listening, the speaker knows that he/she is being heard and not being ignored. If you are actively listening, you will hear everything the speaker is saying. Active listening involves asking relevant questions to help clarify and expand on the topic of the conversation. Listening is also reading the body language. Everything is not just the words, but body language and their tone of voice too.
Listening is creating an environment conducive to the conversation: So why should we be silent when listening? Being silent is respecting the speaker and what they have to say whether you like what you are hearing or not. You are giving the speaker a full opportunity to state what they are thinking and need to express it. Being quiet not only shows respect, but it shows that they are appreciated and respected.
Listening is helping the speaking articulate their ideas: Do you like to be interrupted when you are talking? Waiting until the speaker is finished gives the listener time to take everything they heard into consideration and think about what was heard before responding if a response is necessary. By waiting, you are able to think and react in a proper manner rather than spouting off words in a tone of voice that you may later regret.
Has your supervisor or a fellow staff member asked you to do something and then two seconds later you forgot what they asked you? Perhaps you weren’t actively listening; now you will need to go verify what they asked of you and who will look silly then? When good communication skills are used in the workplace, productivity and overall moral increases. Teamwork not only involves everyone doing their own job, but communicating by actively listening too.
Put your paper down, face the other person, make that eye contact and focus on the person speaking and what they are saying. Most jobs, like many academic jobs, can be stressful enough on their own. So why make things worse? Those who have received “basic” education through a “higher” education should all have good communication skills and use them both at work and at home.
A good conversation takes place when you contribute to creating an environment where ideas are freely born and communicated. And that starts with you.
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