Leadership Skills: Active Listening for Employee Success

Humans have a natural ability to only listen long enough to reply. It’s not uncommon and it’s not always bad, but it can get in the way of developing good leadership skills. When your employees come to you with concerns, they want to know they’re being heard. You can practice your listening skills and improve over time. Here is a step-by-step guide to active listening.   

Pay Undivided Attention   

Even if you have other things on your mind, now is the time to put those aside and listen completely. This is why it’s often helpful to allow employees to set up meetings with you so you can be dedicated to them during that time. When you are, pay attention and don’t allow your mind to wander.   

Engage with Body Language  

Humans speak a lot with their bodies, not just their voices. How you react physically will send a lot of signals to the person speaking. Lean in and make eye contact to show that you’re paying attention to what they are saying. If you fidget or look away a lot, they may get the impression that you don’t care.   

Provide Feedback and Ask Questions  

This is a two-step process. After listening to their concern, repeat it back to make sure that you heard and understood it correctly. If so, follow up with questions to help you clarify any information. People will feel much more engaged if they understand that you heard what they said and that you care enough to ask more questions.   

Ask for Time to Consider and Respond  

Humans also have a very bad habit of formulating an immediate response. But this can not only be too soon, but it can also mean that there’s a better solution out there that no one has considered. When you ask for time to consider the concern, you have an opportunity to think about it from all angles and come up with suggestions that will help resolve the issue.   

Return to the Topic Promptly  

When you do ask for time to think about it, don’t take too long. If you leave the other person hanging, they’ll feel like they were lost in the shuffle. Instead, make a point to return to the topic quickly after you’ve had a chance to review the options and know how you want to approach it with them.  

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