If you read any book or article about what’s needed to be a great Leader, effective communication skills are key, particularly the ability to have great listening skills.
In these tips to improve listening skills for better leadership, we will explore how listening mastery is one of the five key essentials in communication that every Manager needs.
Use open questions
When you want to uncover your customer’s needs, improve your negotiation techniques, or understand why there is conflict, open questions are an essential tool to understand the other person’s position.
Some people get into the habit of asking closed questions, searching for quick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses. They make assumptions to save time. Open questions are powerful initiators to the art of listening. These questions begin with who, where, what, how and why?
Adapt your listening style to the other person’s culture
When working with international clients and colleagues, it’s important to adapt your listening style. What’s normal for you might not be for them. so showing emapathy and an understanding of their context is important.
Be aware of who you are speaking to, and you might be surprised how they reflect this and show more awareness of your culture and style too.
Practise listening without interrupting
You may have heard about active listening – it’s an important technique to master and uses the powers of all our senses, not just our ears. Being able to listen without interrupting is a powerful skill. One of the world’s leading sound experts, Julian Treasure said in his viral TED talk – 5 ways to listen better “we are losing our listening.”
Next time you engage with colleagues, clients or family, listen with intent. You may discover more than you might imagine and build an even stronger relationship.
Don’t think about what you will say while the other person is speaking
In this interesting article in the Huffington Post, there is a unique definition of effective listening:
“Listening involves letting the person finish their sentence completely and orientating your response around them, not yourself.”
Listen without thinking about a response or question, and try to avoid the distractions of how you are going to reply. This will help you to see non-verbal cues and identify those things that are not being said.
Actively listen for what’s under the surface
Look for cues in tone and body language. Actively seek what’s not being said but being suggested. This can be led by the emphasis on how the person presents the conversation, their conviction and their attitude.
Take the next step
Whether you are a new or an experienced Manager, there is no doubt that effective listening skills are essential to optimise productivity, efficiency and performance. What will you change to improve your listening skills?