Do you listen to your employees? Really listen? Letting employees talk is not the same as listening. You have to work at it, the same way you work at anything else you want to succeed at. Here are five things to remember that will make you a better listener:
- Put your work away. As soon as an employee comes to you and wants to talk, put whatever you're working on away. Remove all temptation to do anything other than give your full attention to the employee. Listening means really concentrating - and for many, that's hard! - Bite your tongue. One of the first signs that someone isn't listening is when he or she cuts off the talker in midsentence or midthought. We think we already know what the person's going to say before they finish a sentence. Instead of hearing them out, we interrupt. Make sure your employee is finished before you begin speaking. To avoid interrupting pause and count to 10. Or take several long, deep breaths. - Be aware of your body language. Yawning and looking at the ceiling are dead giveaways that you aren't paying attention. Smile and lean forward. You will be amazed at the effect a simple smile can have. By smiling, looking them in the eye, nodding and leaning forward, you send the message that you are fully engaged in what the person is saying. - Always ask questions, even if you don't have any. Questions tell the employee that you have been listening, and are truly committed to resolving whatever issue is being discussed. - Paraphrase what has been said. Again, this tells the employee that you have been listening; it also helps you get the issues clear in your own head before you speak. Check for understanding “What I heard you say was”
Think about the last conversation you had today. How much can you remember about what the person said? Now think back to a conversation you had with someone else two days ago. How much can you recall? Don't feel bad if you can't remember much of either dialogue. The average untrained listener retains just 50% of a conversation moments after it's over, and 48 hours later that figure drops to 25%.
Remember, God gave us two ears and one mouth because he wants us to listen twice as much as we talk. Who can you listen to today?