Against the backdrop of increasing employee turnover and disengagement in the workplace and burgeoning employee programmes across the globe, it’s important to figure out how line leaders can help their teams navigate fears, feelings, and opinions while remaining engaged at work.
A very simple but profound strategy that effective business leaders’ leverage in keeping their people engaged is the art of listening. Listening plays a key role. According to the International Listening Association, Listening is the process of receiving, constructing meaning from and responding to spoken and/or nonverbal messages (ILA, 1996).
In all honesty, listening is hard especially in this day and age when everything available to distract is just a button away. There’s a consciousness that is needed to ensure that you can focus long enough to pay attention to what is being said (and not said), without letting one’s mind wander to the thousand and one other things requiring equally urgent attention.
When line leaders prioritise listening to their people, they discover how they think and ultimately why they act the way they do which is invaluable insight.
The father of the field of Listening –Ralph Nicols once said, “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”Here are a few tips to help you become a Listening Leader:
•Focus on what’s being said and not what you are going to say
•Never be too busy to listen
•While listening, also pay attention to the non-verbal communication of the speaker – people say as much with their body language and facial expressions
•Listen for the message behind what is said
•Put the speaker at ease: nod your head and smile if possible
•Let your facial expression show you are interested in what is being said
•Focus on the speaker
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Other notable quotes on Listening:
“We should never pretend to know what we don’t know, we should not feel ashamed to ask and learn from people below, and we should listen carefully to the views of the cadres at the lowest levels. Be a pupil before you become a teacher; learn from the cadres at the lower levels before you issue orders.”— Mao Tse-tung
“Silence is a source of great strength.”— Lao Tzu
The International Listening Association promotes the study, development, and teaching of listening and the practice of effective listening skills and techniques. ILA promotes effective listening by establishing a network of professionals exchanging information including teaching methods, training experiences and materials, and pursuing research.