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Working on Your Listening Skills

To become an effective leader, you need good communication. You can build a strong foundation by working on your listening skills.

Communicating Effectively

Self-control is also an important part of communication. When someone gets carried away by bad moods or upsetting events, they aren’t fully available to the people around them.

For example, if you sometimes seem moody and distant or snap at people, people will avoid you because they’re not sure how you’re going to behave. On the other hand, if you are always cool and composed, even in bad situations, people will not avoid you.

To improve your listening skills and avoid letting your moods interfere with your actions, you should

Be open – You should be open to all kinds of information – both good and bad. You should be receptive to other people’s feedback. This openness fosters communication. Employees will be more likely to tell you about problems before they become crises.

Share information – You should communicate about accomplishments and other news instead of just handing out assignments and negative feedback. Your employees will feel more connected through frequent communication.

Be straightforward – You should be straightforward when a difficult issue arises. You should explain problems without becoming emotional. You shouldn’t hide bad news or try to cover up problems. Honesty will build trust.

Build understanding – You need to make sure other people understand your messages. Likewise, you should try to understand the communication you receive. You should spend time talking to employees to ensure that an understanding has been built.

Fostering Key Connections

Powerful, informal connections exist in most organizations today. People rely on their network of relationships within their company and industry to find jobs, project funding, and other important resources.

Good business depends on good relationships. If you don’t build good relationships with the people you interact with, you’ll probably run into dead ends. You won’t get what you need, or you won’t find support when you encounter problems. You can use the following techniques to nurture your informal network:

Making “useful” friendships – Useful friendships are mutually beneficial. You may know people within your company and industry who can help you. The odds are that you can provide assistance to these same people. These mutually beneficial relationships are a strong link in your professional network.

Being cooperative – You probably have the opportunity to do favors for other people. Consider helping others out, especially if you know they may be in a position to assist you in the future. This applies to people above and below you in rank, as well as vendors and suppliers.

Building rapport – This is an ongoing process. Have casual conversations with people in your office about subjects that aren’t work-related. Attend networking and social functions so you can get to know others better. Make an effort to meet new faces.

Sharing information – It can be extremely frustrating to be “out of the loop.” People are grateful to those who share important information. Take the time to communicate relevant issues to co-workers, vendors, and other departments.

Keeping a balance – Professional friendships are very important to your success. Keep in mind that you must avoid clashes in these relationships. Resist the urge to gossip or become involved in personal conflicts that take place at work. This behavior can damage the network you’ve worked to build.

Your professional network will benefit you in both good and bad times. You can look to your colleagues for help when you’re struggling. However, these relationships are reciprocal. Do your part to help others and you’ll be strengthening connections in your industry.