Active listening is the key to building strong workplace relationships. Listening may seem like a simple skill to you, but it is an extremely powerful tool that often can be misunderstood. Active listening is not just listening to another individual, but it is putting in the effort to give your complete focus on what they are saying, which communicates your empathy.
The following are 7 active listening tips to build work relationships:
1. Be aware of your body language.
With your body, you can show the person speaking that you are interested in the conversation. Make sure to keep your posture open, nod your head, and be aware of your facial expressions. This will convey to the speaker that you are understanding and engaged with what the other person is saying.
2. Don’t Interrupt
It is essential that you don’t interrupt when someone else is speaking to you. If you interrupt, then it can give off the message that you aren’t interested in what the other person is saying. The person speaking can also feel disrespected and would not feel comfortable opening up to you again. Wait until the person has finished speaking, and then give your input. This will convey that you gave your full attention to the other person.
3. Try Paraphrasing
To make sure that you have understood the person, try to paraphrase what they have said instead of immediately giving your opinion. This will ensure that you have understood them, and if not, it will allow the speaker to clarify anything that could have been misinterpreted.
4. Keep Questions Open-Ended
Ask open-ended questions where you need further clarification. It also gives the speaker a further chance to open up on the topic and give you as much detail as possible to get a better picture of the situation. This way, you are keeping the conversation open for further discussion.
5. Make sure to avoid any distractions.
Sometimes, when we’ve been listening to someone for a long time, it’s easy to let our minds drift to something else. This is an internal distraction, but there are also external distractions which include the work environment around you. If you notice yourself getting distracted, make a conscious effort to go back to what the person is saying. Give your input, if need be, to bring yourself back to the present.
6. Recount Personal Experiences
Share your own similar experiences to show the speaker that you fully understand what they are saying. It can help to provide input on how you managed to overcome a similar situation and how the speaker will manage to overcome it too.
7. Enjoy the Silence
If there are moments of silence, be comfortable with them. Silence helps people to reflect on what is being said and gives you time to respond as best you can. Silence is a powerful tool that can be used in conversations.
Active listening will help improve your work relationships, build trust, reduce misunderstandings, and be more productive at work. It helps empower speakers to discuss anything on their minds without feeling judged.
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Mandy Brincat is a Gestalt psychotherapist who enjoys working therapeutically with adults on various issues, such as general mental health and well-being. She also has experience working with children with anxiety and day-to-day stressful problems, and on relational issues with couples.
- Dagher, K. (2022, September 1). How to Practice Active Listening at Work: 8 Key Techniques | Fellow. app. Fellow. app. https://fellow.app/blog/productivity/how-to-practice-active-listening-at-work-key-techniques-to-become-a-better-leader/
- Herrity, J. (2022, December 13). 11 Active Listening Skills To Practice (With Examples). Indeed.com. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/active-listening-skills
- How to Use Active Listening to Build Relationships. (n.d.). Emily Post. https://emilypost.com/advice/how-to-use-active-listening-to-build-relationships