He Said, She Said: Communication Skills and Active Listening
In his book What is Active Listening? , Bookboon Author Paul Newton tells us that the deceptively simple concept of active listening is an excellent tool to help you improve your communication skills.
Originally developed in the context of therapeutic interviews, active listening involves listening for meaning, not just listening to the words that are spoken, and its principles can be applied to workplace communications. Active listening demonstrates your undivided attention, encourages the other party to continue speaking, and can build rapport and understanding between you and the speaker.
An active listener is neutral, non-judgmental, and fully engaged throughout the conversation. You can use several degrees of active listening, each resulting in a different quality of communication.
Newton tells the three main degrees of being an active listener:
Mastering Active Listening
There are three components of active listening that you need to understand in order to master this essential communication skill. They are:
- Listener Orientation – This means that 100 percent of your attention should be on the speaker and not on what you’d like to say next.
- The Reflective Technique – A great way to show a speaker that you are actively listening to them is by clarifying what you believe the message they are trying to communicate is. A mixture of reflection and direct questioning can get to the bottom of what people mean.
- Questioning Skills – Developing your ability to ask questions that draw out the information needed to aid your understanding of the speaker’s situation and help them find a resolution is crucial to your success.
Active Listening: How Can it Help You?
Any manager who can master the techniques of active listening will be able to have a more productive and motivated team. This is because your team members will feel that they are listened to and understood. The atmosphere active listening engenders within your team means that they will be happy to contribute their views and ideas, creating a strong connection between members.