- Many leaders fail to really listen to their employees’ needs.
- Engagement, dedication and commitment to work only happens when colleagues and leaders forge deep and genuine connections.
- In the workplace, generous listening helps employees’ job performance and job knowledge.
If there is one crucial thing that the ‘Great Resignation’ or the even more recent ‘Quiet Quitting’ trend has taught us, it is that we, as leaders, have failed to listen generously to our employees.
Listening Skills At Workplace
Generous listening in the workplace is no easy endeavor. Most of us are more accustomed to a leadership style that communicates in a firm direction through clear speech and expression, rather than one that elevates listening, motivates inclusion and assures affirmative action. Yet, now we find ourselves at a crucial turning point. Amidst this major shift experienced in post-COVID-19 era workplaces all around the world, leaders have an important opportunity to reshape the cultures and collective wellbeing of their organizations.
Listener responsiveness and the coordination of conversation listening increases the amount of information expressed and the range to which the listener comprehends the speaker’s objective. Listening promotes the cognitions of the speaker by improving memory, as well as reflective self-awareness. In the workplace, this means that through listening, leaders not only increase their employees’ job performance and job knowledge, but also improve their wellbeing and psychological safety by reducing burnout, emotional exhaustion and stress.
Being Fully Present
When listening to another, first try to clear your mind. Be aware of any of your underlying feelings and frustrations and set them aside. Then focus entirely on what the other person is saying. Don’t try to formulate your answers as they speak, multi-task or let your mind wander. Remain present and attentive. Put away potential distractions that are likely to become obstacles to generous listening. Put your phone away. If you are at your desk, close your laptop or turn your chair towards the person to whom you are listening.
Set bias and Judgement Aside
Generous listening is an empathetic and compassionate practice. When you listen generously, you make an active effort to see the world through another’s perspective and to understand their thoughts and feelings. This will never be fully possible if you hold judgement or bring your personal biases to the table. Conversations like this will tend to hit a wall, with some parties being on the defensive and making others shut down.
Do not interrupt
Leaders must respect their peers and be genuinely curious about what they must share, rather than interrupt the flow of dialogue and disengage team members. Leaders should strive to be attentive, caring and attuned to the underlying rhythms and moods of their team, generously listening far beyond words and picking up the subtle cues that reveal more. Doing this, they could lead as an example, but more importantly, could set the stepping stones and foundations to cultivating a wider culture of generous listening in the workplace.
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