Do you think of communication as only verbal….being able to share your thoughts? Another part of communication is listening. The communication process includes both the speaker and the receiver. In your role as a manager, being a strong listener is an important skill for you to develop.

In today’s busy world, we want communication to be brief. Each employee develops his or her own communication style. What if their style is not complimentary to you…do you feel frustrated if someone takes too much time or needs to communicate too often.

Rate your listening skills using a scale:
Often --- Sometimes --- Never

Below is a very simple test to evaluate your current listening skills. If you answer Often to most of the questions below, then you will need to spend time developing your listening skills. There are many tools out there to help you build this skill.

-Are you thinking of your response while they are speaking?

-Do you make assumptions about what you think they are going to say next or what they are feeling?

-Do you interrupt them when they are speaking?

-Do you tell them they are wrong or downplay what is important to them?

-Do say “I hear you, BUT?” Saying BUT negates what was said before the BUT.

-Do you allow interruptions from others while the person is speaking?

--->Listening Tips

If you really want to listen, you can learn how to increase your ability.

-As a manager, you get many interruptions…..try to put them on hold while you are in the listening mode.

-Create an internal mantra that allows you to switch from being busy to being quiet and available to listening. For example, what one word can you say to yourself reminding you to listen?

-Look at the person – make eye contact and even respond by acknowledgement of what they were saying.

-Stop trying to get the last word one in...promoting your agenda. There will be plenty of time for you to share your thoughts. Who knows you may change your mind after listening to the other person.

-Give the speaker time to finish before you speak

-Ask questions to gain more clarity.

-Sometimes employees ramble on and your tendency may be to shut down. Instead, focus on their main points. Give them feedback on what your heard. Then you can negotiate how to handle the problem or the suggestion.

--->Additional Thoughts:

I’m assuming you appreciate when someone listens to you. Employees are similar to you. By listening, you have the opportunity to build a relationship with the employee, as well as gather information that would help the business. Even a challenging employee provides information. If they complain continuously about the working environment, check to see if they are the spokesperson for the rest of the team.

When you develop listening skills, your team will take more risks and share their thoughts with you. This can only help you….more brainpower working together to build the business.

Take on the challenge to be a great listener….it’s not just for the employee….there is a lot in it for you as the manager. It’s a necessary skill to maximize if you want to succeed in business.

Author's Bio: 

Pat Brill is the author of “The Secrets of a Successful Time Manager” (www.SuccessfulTimeManager.com) and “Manager’s Guide to Performance Improvement.” (www.GuideToPerformance.com) Check out her blog: www.ManagingEmployees.net. You can reach Pat at pat@TheInfoCrowd.com