Have you ever felt completely unheard when trying to talk to someone? Or have you been in a conversation where you couldn’t get one word or response in? Communication is a two-way street. It requires speaking and also listening – active listening. But, what is active listening, exactly?
Active listening is a vital social skill. It helps you to reach a mutual understanding with your counterpart. If you work in an administrative role, this communication skill is invaluable.
Let’s take a look at what active listening is and how you can practice it.
Active listening requires listening and responding during a conversation, in a way that helps you reach a mutual understanding. It is central to diffusing conflict, solving problems, and seeing others’ viewpoints.
Active listening breaks down into four essential components:
Slowing down until you really understand
Reflecting and processing what you heard
Responding at the appropriate time
Practicing those above steps will put you on the road to becoming a better active listener. With continued practice, this communication skill will become more natural and will not go unnoticed by leaders or peers in your organization. When you are actively listening to another person, you will both leave the conversation feeling heard, seen, and understood.
Open and clear communication in the workplace is critical for a company's success. Implementing active listening in the workplace will streamline communication and improve employee relations. It will also make for a more welcoming and open work environment.
Here are some key ways to implement active listening in your workplace.
Stay Focused: Put your full attention on who is speaking. Don’t interrupt, cut the speaker off, and definitely do not look at your phone. Most importantly, rather than thinking about what you’re going to say next, just listen!
Set Aside Ego and Judgment: Regardless of what is being said, do your best to put your personal bias aside. We all have our own experiences and opinions. Refrain from responding immediately based on biases. Keep an open mind and try to hear what the other person is saying, without making snap judgments.
Practice Patience: Don’t rush the person you are speaking with. Even if they are taking time to make their point, practice patience. If you need to keep the conversation moving, ask relevant questions. This will let them know they are being heard and will keep the conversation going constructively.
Use Your Eyes and Ears: Taking in facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice will help you get a better gauge of your counterpart’s state. Observing body language will help you spot emotions such as anger, sadness, anxiety, and more.
Respond Appropriately: Take your time to develop thoughtful and appropriate responses. Reply when necessary to keep the conversation going. However, don’t jump in heavily until it’s your turn to speak.
If someone in your workplace is coming to you with a problem, find empathy. Keep in mind varying skill sets, previous experience, and different personality types. While it may be easy for you to communicate difficulties, it may be very hard for someone else. Seek clarification where needed, but ensure you maintain patience and understanding.
An office setting is often fast-paced and stressful, and involves heavy workloads. Take the time to actively listen in order to truly understand your colleagues.
For more tools and resources on improving your administrative professional skills, look no further than ASAP. We are certain that if you add active listening to your skill set, your interpersonal relationships will flourish. We offer the PACE certification and a variety of training courses, webinars, and in-person events to help you practice and implement advanced communication skills in your career.