The #1 Skill that Will Make You a Better Employee and Colleague
Being (or becoming) a good listener is not only an easy skill to learn but is absolutely top among our job etiquette tips.
According to Paul Sacco, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, research shows that most of us listen with just 25 percent of efficiency. In other words, we are missing a lot. While we might be focused on the mechanics of listening such as head-nodding or eye contact, there are also certain positive traits good listeners—and good leaders—have in common.
Listening habits to avoid:
Remember what they taught in kindergarten about taking turns? No one likes to be cut off mid-sentence by someone talking over them. This trait is a sure-fire conversation-killer. You might be eager to jump in with an opinion, but give the speaker a chance to finish talking. It is also a nice idea to acknowledge what the other speaker said before adding your own input to the conversation.
Negativity and Criticism
Responding to the speaker with phrases such as “you should have…” may come across as critical and gives the speaker the impression that you are not really paying attention, much less empathetic to their situation or story. They might not be asking for help or a solution – just relating an experience or work situation. This is almost guaranteed to shut down the conversation and perhaps leave important things unsaid because no one likes to be made to feel defensive.
Checking Email or Scrolling Through Your Phone
Nothing says “I am not listening” better than absently scrolling through email messages or checking a social media account while your friend or associate is speaking. If you are unable to give the speaker your attention, apologize and excuse yourself to take care of your mobile activity elsewhere.
Develop good listening habits with the following practices:
Try to really relate to what is going through the speaker’s mind, putting yourself in their position. By being open-minded and receptive to other viewpoints you will be a better listener and a better person.
Paraphrase What You Hear
Paraphrasing (repeating back what you heard) tells the speaker that you are paying attention. It also gives them the chance to correct misperceptions that may have occurred in the conversation.
Ask Good Questions
If a friend is discussing a family member coping with a health problem, you might ask “what will you do now” or other open-ended questions that show you are paying attention and show empathy toward their situation.
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