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The Best Listener at Work

 

The Best Listener at Work

The Best Listener at Work

You may wonder why being a good listener at work is really valuable.  However, if you experiment with improving your workplace listening skills, you will see changes.   In the fast past, high demand jobs so many of us have, really good listening may be something of a novelty.  This may because of the ever-impending deadlines, the many distractions we have or the workplace stress.  If you commit to being the best listener at work, you may notice that some of these challenges shift.

So how might listening skills impact your work place experience?  Well, consider your experience now.  How well do you feel heard at work?  What do you notice about people how are really present with you when communicating vs. those that are anxious to move to the next “to do”?  I would imagine that when someone is really present with you that it is easier to talk to them, you may feel more connected or more at ease. What if you were that person for everyone else?  How might this impact your workplace experience if people knew that when they spoke to you, that they could count on you to really pay attention?

Particularly if you are a leader, really good listening skills go a long way.   Being able to connect, understand and communicate effectively with your employees is a crucial component of an effective leader.   According to a study in The Journal of Occupational Health, it was found that… “psychological stress reactions were lower in subordinates who worked under supervisors with high listening skill, while no statistically difference was observed among older subordinates.” 

So if we know that our listening skills have an impact on our overall work stress, it seems like a great advantage for us to actively improve these skills.  Below you’ll find three tips to improve your listening skills

1.) Offer more clarity

Repeating something back to someone in the way that you heard it will help to reduce miscommunication.  Repeating a statement also offers the opportunity for this person to add additional clarification if necessary.  This way of “active listening” ensures that this person is being understood correctly and shows them that you are paying attention.

2.) Focus

Sometimes we can get caught up in how we are going to respond to something.  Thinking of what to say next reduces our ability to listen to what someone is saying.  Attending to what someone is saying without focusing on how to respond will create stronger communication.  Remain focused on the present moment and really digesting what it is that someone is communicating. 

3.) Breath

Often times at the workplace we are moving a million miles a minute, which reduces our ability to take in information in any given moment.  Taking a few moments to breath as you speak with someone will help you to be more present and process what they are saying more effectively.  Before you speak or when you are feeling overwhelmed, stop and take a deep breath.  This may sound trivial but can do wonders for not only stress but your ability to communicate and listen effectively. 

After you’ve had the opportunity to put these behaviors to the test, I would invite you to make a comment below.   I would suggest that in order to notice results you may have to practice one or all three for at least four times a week for three weeks.   After you’ve practiced, consider answering the following questions –

How did they work if they did at all? 

What did you learn?  

How long did you practice each new behavior?  

Best,

Michael

P.S. If you want to learn more about how to improve your listening skills at work, in order increase influence, engagement and build effective relationships, we can help.  Schedule a free consult today to see if are a fit to work together

 

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Counseling Skills in Business

When considering how a field like counseling or psychology may be relevant in business, one thing that comes to mind is the idea of change.  In the fast pace environment that most companies exist in, change is one constant that we can count on.  Whether this means a merger, a management shift, an organizational restructuring or simply a new hire, the business’s challenge is how to adjust to these shifts regularly.  Those in a supervisory role are tasked with how they can improve management skills to impact employee performance.  The following is an example of a management skill that supervisors can utilize to impact change.

An orientation in counseling that also works as a people management skill, is an approach called Motivational Interviewing (MI). MI is defined as “A collaborative conversation to strengthen a person’s own motivation for and commitment to change”.  This approach focuses on ambivalence towards change and works with an individual to increase motivation for change.  When discussing the ambivalence towards a change, one strategy to consider within MI, is called “OARS” (Open Ended Questions, Affirmation, Reflections and Summary).  The communication style of “OARS” is only a small part of MI.  However, when working with employees, managers and executives, “OARS” can be utilized to help understand why/how a change is taking place and what obstacles stand in the way.  The idea behind “OARS” is that the person using this strategy is asking open ending questions, affirming what the other has to say, reflecting on their statements and summarizing what they are saying in order to build clarity.

For example, a manager is trying to decide the most effective way to approach an employee and address performance issues.  The communication style of “OARS” utilized in MI may be particularly helpful when looking at what kinds of changes this employee needs to make in order to get the expected results.  A challenge many managers face is how to elicit a change without making the employee resentful or offended.  If a manager is particularly savvy, they will understand the value of inspiring an employee to make a change, rather than coercing. MI can help make the process of inspiring change more effective, through reducing an employee’s ambivalence and address the advantages of making this change.  MI has been effective in helping people address a change they are uncertain of, as well as address how to go about making it.  For more information on MI, please see- www.motivationalinterviewing.org

Thank you!

Michael

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