Communication Skills in the Workplace Starts With Listening
There are many ways to improve your communication skills in the workplace! It starts with dong more listening than speaking. We’ve heard it many times in our lives that God gave us two ears and only one mouth for a reason. Listening allows us to gain a better understanding of our coworkers and staff and what their needs are. Without listening first we make assumptions as to what their needs are and that leads only to frustration on everyone’s part.
So how do we improve our good leadership skills through becoming better listeners? It all begins with an investment of time and time in today’s business world is a tremendous asset that is hard for most of us to give away. The key is to think of the time spent listening as an investment in every aspect of your business.
So what are we listening for? We are listening to for several things.
First, and foremost I can’t stress enough that you get to know who your employees are as people. Are they married? Do they have children? What are their children’s names? How long have they been married? What are their interests? What excites them? Are they worried about anything? If you really take an interest without getting too personal it will begin to build a trusting relationship that will be the foundation for all the potential future struggles you may face in the workplace. It will also help you understand what the employee’s goals, dreams, limitations, expectations, are in the event you have a special project or even on a day to day basis.
So how does this all lead to better communication skills in the workplace? As an example you may learn that your employee is taking care of a dependent parent that requires a great deal of time and money in their personal life. Knowing this may help you understand what the employee may need from the job. It may mean that they can’t work overtime or travel for the company. Provided the employee is working what they agreed to work in the first place it allows you to communicate in a different way to them so that you acknowledge their situation.
The other part of being a good listener is that employees will share much more than what you expect them to, and in most cases unknowingly. They will alert you to disgruntled employees, demanding customers, equipment in need of replacement, and many other potential problems in the workplace. These are the tremendous benefits of simply listening, but it requires time.
Good leadership skills come in all types and sizes of leadership styles; however, listening is the most important part of good communication skills in the workplace. When we talk about listening I am not talking about scheduling time with each employee and asking them to share. I’m speaking about doing more walking the workplace and stopping and creating a conversation by asking how things are going. The best way to do this is ask questions about them.
As I mentioned earlier don’t get too personal. It might be about how their child is doing in sports. If they are too generic it is only considered meaningless small talk. As an example, if you ask them a closed ended question like if they had a good weekend the common response is yes. The conversation is done at that point and you’ve learned nothing about them. On the other hand if you ask them what did they do exciting this weekend you may generate some conversation that could lead to more information about them. They may tell you about a fishing trip or perhaps a sporting event. If they don’t say anything you may share what you did to get things started.
The bottom line is to do more listening than speaking! You will be amazed at the difference it will make in productivity, loyalty, trust, respect, etc.
Thank you and May God bless you!
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