Are You Listening?

Has this ever happened to you? You think you’re having a conversation with a colleague and realize they aren’t paying a bit of attention to you—they have something they want to talk about and it really doesn’t matter what you say because they’re not listening to you?

This happened to me recently and it reminded me what a critical skill listening is and how few of us really are good at it.  Think about all the time you spent in school learning how to read and write—but, did you ever have a class in how to listen?  Probably not, and I think that’s a mistake!

We think it is such an important skill that we devoted an entire chapter in The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook, to listening. Here’s an excerpt from that chapter, “Listen Up!”

“Listening is not waiting for your turn to talk, but it appears that is how most of us listen—while the other person is talking, all we’re doing is thinking about what we are going to say next—and, because we aren’t hearing what is being said, the odds are that our response doesn’t move the communication process forward.

Listening well is essential for workplace success. The US Department of Labor estimates that of the total time we spend in communication, 22 percent is devoted to reading and writing, 23 percent is devoted to speaking and—55 percent is to listening.”

You can become a better listener if you try using an effective technique—active listening. Try the following to improve your skills:

  • Listen to learn—be interested in what the other person is saying and show it.
  • Seek understanding—listen to the words and ask questions to clarify what you hear.
  • Pay attention to non-verbal cues—watch body language and tone of voice.

We offer a lot more about listening in The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook which is available on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, or at your local bookstore. Celebrate Workplace Conflict Awareness Month this April by improving your listening skills. 

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