Why is active listening important?
As a leader, you might say that “I’m supposed to be the one everyone should listen to.” Of course, that’s not the real deal.
You would best answer the above question if you address this one first: What happens if you don’t listen?
Let’s face it. The workplace is a complicated environment. And nothing is more so when this involves union members with jobs that are more dangerous than the rest. An example would be those in the mechanical field.
Union members know their rights. They are well aware that they can negotiate with management, especially if it’s their safety that’s on the line.
Leaders constantly face complaints from team members. Sometimes, meetings, one-on-one coaching sessions, and even regular conversations may become heated if one is not careful. It’s possible even to have shouting matches between management and workers.
Why do these things occur? It’s mostly because people are only concerned about what they have to say; they don’t bother listening to what the other party has to say.
Your team is supposed to be a well-oiled machine. Each person has their distinct purpose and output, but when these disparate elements are joined to form a complete unit, the total yield is far more than the sum of their individual outputs.
But how do you develop synergy within your organization, and how do you maintain it once you have it?
That’s where listening comes in. More specifically, that’s where active listening comes in.
Active listening entails making a conscious effort to hear the words said by another person and the entire message being transmitted, leading to better understanding.
Active listening is a skill, and being an engaged listener needs a great deal of focus and dedication from you. But there are some strategies you can learn and apply so that everything is smooth sailing for you and your team.
Benefits of Active Listening
Before discussing the different ways to become an active listener, it’s best to look in-depth into the benefits:
If you are actively listening to your members, you build trust and a strong connection with them.
People who work in a mechanical setting can be exposed to some hazardous situations, making them more sensitive and vulnerable. Active listening allows you to understand their perspective and respond with empathy.
Employees want you to comprehend what they’re going through when they submit a complaint. Being an engaged listener entails understanding that the conversation is more about them than you.
Active listening aids in resolving conflict.
There will always be conflict among team members. But there is nothing worse than a conflict between a leader and their member.
When there are complaints coming from workers, we don’t disregard them. We should listen to arrive at a resolution that would serve both parties.
Active listening allows us to consider issues from both sides to recognize and understand the sentiments of others. So, if there’s a complaint, for example, about machine deficiencies, a leader listens to what the workers have to say. In that manner, they understand where the latter’s feelings are coming from.
Active listening can help improve performance.
When your subordinate tells you something, you absorb and comprehend their message more effectively through active listening. You become more adept at providing advice.
And with your help, your members improve their performance as well. Talk about hitting two birds with one stone!
Here’s a helpful link to know more about active listening benefits: https://www.inpd.co.uk/blog/benefits-of-active-listening.
Tips to Becoming an Active Listener
Active listening is a skill that can be learned. Here are some tips you can apply:
Ask open-ended questions
Open-ended inquiries elicit a more detailed response from your team members. Closed questions can rapidly conclude a conversation, whereas open-ended questions keep the conversation flowing while allowing you to learn more and find ways to alleviate any misunderstanding or solve any problems.
Look for non-verbal cues
These cues usually come in the form of body language. Facial expressions and gestures can convey just as much information as words alone.
When you are trying to diffuse arguments that arise due to complaints from workers, such as those mechanics, whose nature of work makes them a bit on edge, you need to take into consideration things like body language. They may be sitting calmly as they talk to you, but if you “listen attentively,” you’ll see that they may be rolling their eyes in disgust.
You can use these cues to plan your next steps. These cues allow you to provide your subordinates with what they want or settle for a compromise.
Most leaders are guilty of interrupting their subordinates. But to come to a desirable situation for everyone involved, you need to step back and allow them to express themselves.
Complaining members should be allowed to continue with their tirades. You have plenty of time to talk some sense into them once they vent out their feelings.
You somehow tell them that their thoughts and feelings do not matter if you interrupt. Give these people time; listen to what they have to say. And before you know it, they’ll go into o a quiet mode, and they become ready to listen to you in turn.
Active listening takes time. But that’s a small sacrifice for you as a leader considering its benefits.
Wouldn’t you want to have trust and a strong bond with your team? Leaders desire no conflict and strive for improved performance.
You can begin using these active listening techniques now to improve your workplace productivity, develop better relationships with your team, and become a better communicator.
If you integrate active listening into managing your team, your leadership will reach new heights. The well-oiled machine remains up and running, yielding the best outcomes.
Going back to the question – Why is active listening important? You LEARN and LEAD by LISTENING.