The short answer is “it depends”. But it gets better! Yes, when leaders listen it can improve workplace communication and here are three quick and easy ideas to improve communication skills in the workplace and among your leaders.
Elevate Your Listening Level
Not long ago I wrote a post on the 4 levels of listening and what they each mean. If you review that post and even share it with colleagues on social media as your own survey device, I think you’ll find that many float between non-listening and evaluative listening. Non-listening, of course, is when someone is giving you the requisite facial expression but no real attention. Evaluative listening is when the other party is really looking for their chance to interject their own opinion or wisdom. Neither will improve the communication skills in the workplace. Transcend the average leadership listening efforts and become an active participant in the conversation. Really listen to what they’re saying and not saying and use more than just your ears to craft a thoughtful response.
Actually Get Interested
One of the most rapid ways for improving communication skills in the workplace or any relationship really, is to act, get, and be interested in the message from the other person. One common example that points out just how little interest we usually show is the greeting “How are you?” This “question” is really used more as a greeting than an actual inquiry and when it’s said, most aren’t interested in the actual answer. Try it. Ask everyone this morning how they are and watch how few actually provide a substantive answer beyond “fine”. In fact, most don’t even stop to hear that much and instead keep walking away showing no interest in the actual answer. Those leaders who are the most engaging, most well respected, and evaluated as exceptional communicators who really seem to care about those they lead, stop, show interest, and really listen.
Differentiate the Skill from The Gift
Hearing is a gift that many are born equipped to do. Listening on the other hand is a skill. If you can hear, you have the ability to listen and if you can listen, then certainly you can hear, but you must admit, they ARE different. Just because one can physically hear, doesn’t mean they are a good listener and it certainly doesn’t mean they practice the fourth level of listening, known as active listening in which all the senses are engaged. Part of the challenge is that in our current day and age, we are barraged with information and messages that we learn to tune out. We no longer hear the many messages day in and day out and that practice quickly becomes a habit. Are your leaders really listening and using it as one of their effective tools for improving communication skills in the workplace or are they merely hearing the constant droning buzz of employee chatter and tuning it out much as we often do car alarms or police sirens?
If your goal is improving communication skills in the workplace and among your leaders and team members, what efforts are you taking to make that happen? One option to consider is a communication skills training class. Need more information? Review the write up for the Contagious Communication training class and determine if it meets your needs.
I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment.