Becoming a good listener helps you develop open and healthy relationships that gain you respect and understanding. One way to improve your communication and interpersonal skills is by using a technique called active listening. Active listening is often used in conflict resolution and counseling but the methods easily translate to the professional workplace as well. There are four methods to use in practice.
- The first, encouragement, allows you, as the listener, to gain a better understanding of what is being said.
- Example: “That’s really interesting, tell me more.”
- The second method, restatement, shows that you are listening and helping to clarify someone’s point. This method verifies understanding.
- Example: “What I hear you saying is….”
- Reflection, the third method, indicates that you understand the message and it’s an opportunity to convey empathy. This method legitimizes the other person’s feelings.
- Example: “You were upset because you felt…”
- The fourth and final method of active listening is summarization. This demonstrates that you have been paying attention and understand what is being said.
- Example: “If I understand you correctly, there are five reasons why you…”
Listening matters because it helps you form stronger and more effective professional relationships. It prevents miscommunications and time wasted on erroneous activities while making your speaking partner feel valued. Do your best to encourage the other person to open up by asking open-ended questions.
Aside from spoken words, active listening also involves behavior and body language. Remember that your body language can be extremely revealing and do your best to stay open and non-confrontational. Be conscious of your facial expressions and make sure they reflect what the other person is saying. All of these practices can be used on the phone while talking to unhappy members, prospective members, and other coworkers. Begin today in your next conversation or meeting by focusing on what the other person is saying, why they’re saying it, how they’re saying it, and then respond appropriately.
Read more about this topic on the WSJ.