Successful leaders prosper by connecting with other people. One of the most effective ways to do this is by actively listening to your team members, every day. Pay attention to what your employees say – and what they don’t say – in order to prevent and solve problems and promote continuous improvement.
Listening Builds Trust
Leaders who listen are more likely to forge trustworthy relationships that breed loyalty.
- Be mindful of each employee’s individual needs. Then, you can help them advance as professionals and you will also boost overall performance and productivity. Active listening enables you to find out what people are thinking about, what’s bothering them, and how they can stay motivated.
- Nonverbal cues are critical to effective listening. Be aware of body language, facial expressions, moods, and behavioral tendencies.
Show You Care
Be an empathetic leader and continuously work on building your emotional intelligence. Employees want to be led by people who genuinely care about them and what they represent to their team and company.
- Let people know you feel their frustrations. Every individual manages stress and pressure differently. Don’t hesitate to express sentiment. This strengthens, not weakens, your leadership stature. Be approachable, so employees will feel comfortable turning to you when necessary.
More Listening Tips
Listening is not judging, interrupting or offering advice. The last one may come into play, but you need to wait until you’re asked, rather than jumping in too soon with your own thoughts or opinion.
- Don’t interrupt. Stay focused on, and be respectful of, what an employee is saying. Tame your impulse to break in. Interrupting sends the wrong message: “What I have to say is more important than what you’re” This is discourteous and alienating. Equally damaging is the energy you expend planning your response before the other person stops talking. It may seem like this saves you time, but in reality you’ve already tuned out what they’re trying to tell you.
- Be more attentive. The first step is making eye contact with the person who’s speaking to you. It sounds simple, but how often do you scan your phone or gaze around the room during a conversation? Maintaining eye contact and glancing away only occasionally helps focus your attention and lessens distracting noise in your head.
- Mind your own body language. As the other person speaks, lean in and nod your head from time to time. This shows you’re open to letting them continue to express their thoughts.
- Learn more about effective listening from the International Listening Association.
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Published on Jun 13, 2018