Becoming an Effective Listener
The value of being an active listener includes projecting a positive image to others and keeping an open mind when you talk to them. There’s an equally important effective listening strategy to follow in order to become a proactive listener and an assertive business professional.
The two listening styles complement each other and make you a good communicator, which in turn contributes to your abilities to be an efficient business professional.
There are three necessary elements of being an effective listener:
- concentrating on the message,
- summarizing your conversation, and
- providing a reasonable response.
Concentrating on the message
This element contains the following three components:
- Open the conversation — You want to open the conversation and put everyone at ease in an atmosphere that fosters good communication. When opening a conversation, it’s essential to clarify the reason the conversation is taking place and to make sure everyone has the same agenda and expectations.
- Focus on the ideas presented — You want to listen to hear the message. To do so, you need to focus on the ideas or issues being presented. What is the core idea? Are you dealing with facts, opinions, or both? Most important, do you think you understand the ideas or issues the other person is trying to convey?
- Analyse the nonverbal cues — It’s important to pay attention to the nonverbal image the other person presents. What do tone of voice and body language convey to you? Is the person at ease, nervous, or upset? Notice these cues as you listen, and then work to foster a productive conversation.
Summarising your conversation
Summarizing keeps you on track and helps ensure that miscommunication doesn’t occur. For example, if someone says to you, “I’ve had trouble with the procedure and I’m not the only one.
It’s too complicated and poorly presented. It reads like a regulation from the federal government,” you might summarize by saying, “I don’t hear you asking to throw out the procedure; what I think you’re saying is that we need to rewrite it to be understandable and present it in an organized fashion.”
In the example above, you summarized your co-worker’s comments as expressing the need for rewriting the procedure rather than throwing it out. You also interpreted his comments as requiring a different, understandable presentation of the procedure following its rewrite.
Providing a reasonable response
To do this, acknowledge the concerns of the other person and note the action step you will take as a result of the conversation.
You can use the effective listening strategy successfully in the workplace. Your use of this strategy will strengthen your role as an assertive business professional.
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