Listening Skills: A Team that Listens, Perform Well!

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Listening Skills

Listening can be defined as the ability to correctly obtain and understand messages in the process of communication.Poor listening skills lead to a total breakdown of communication, misunderstandings crop up, sender and receiver of the messages both become irritated and frustrated.Good listening skills, on the other hand, lead to better customer contentment, lesser number of mistakes, clear communication, easy knowledge sharing and better relationships with everyone.  All effective leaders have one thing in common- great listening skills.

Insight into character comes from listening intently to the spoken word. The physical person, their charisma, charm and dramatic flair is more often used to persuade audiences, as they use these stealth tools of disguise and deception.

Maximillian Degenerez

There are several benefits of good listening skills. But your benefits of great listening skills could be different from mine, Therefore, before I give you the positives of these skills, you think about the questions given in the Learning Activity

Learning Activity

Give 5 disadvantages of having poor listening skills at your workplace.

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Give 5 advantages of having good listening skills at workplace.

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Write 5 things that you will do to improve your listening skills.

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I for one, feel that there are many benefits of listening skills including:

  1. Improved relationships
  2. Improved self-confidence and esteem
  3. Better understanding
  4. Decreased number of conflicts and misunderstandings
  5. Time and effort saving
  6. Building trust and credibility
  7. Better perception and analysis of situations

… I can go on and on…

“This is the problem with dealing with someone who is actually a good listener. They don’t jump in on your sentences, saving you from actually finishing them, or talk over you, allowing what you do manage to get out to be lost or altered in transit. Instead, they wait, so you have to keep going.”

― Sarah Dessen, Just Listen

 

A classic example of good listening skills is that of Johnson and Johnson. Mr. Earle Dickson, a cotton buyer at Johnson and Johnson went home every night to find his lovely wife Josephine injured and cut due to her everyday work. He pasted cotton swabs at regular intervals on adhesive tape and treated it with antiseptic.

Now we would not be able to use band-aid had the team at Johnson and Johnson not listened patiently to Mr. Dickson.

The best way to connect with people is to listen to them. Everyone wants to be listened to. From small babies, to spouses, from parents to in-laws, from bosses to subordinates everyone wants attention. The best way to influence your team members is to give them attention by listening to them.

Did you know?

  1. Adler, L. Rosenfeld and R. Proctor conducted extensive research in 2001 and found that adults spend around 70% of their time in communicating one way or the other. Approximately 45% of this time is spent in listening, 30% in speaking, 16% in reading and around 9% in writing.

Effective listening requires undivided attention. It does not mean putting the ears to use. It means, using all the senses to interpret the message conveyed by the sender of the information.

10 Fundamentals of Listening

Reading between the lines is a fine aspect of listening. Listening simply does not mean understanding what is said, but also comprehending what is unsaid.

So here are the fundamentals of listening.

1# Talk less to Listen More

When your team member talks, just keep quiet and listen. When I say keep quiet, I mean ask your mind to remain silent as well. We usually keep talking in our heads to prepare for the answer we are going to give, rather than listening to the other person.

2# Wear Your Listening Blinders

When listening to somebody, focus all your attention on that person. It is not a good thing to think about what you want to cook for dinner when somebody is talking to you. Remember that the speaker needs your undivided attention.

3# Make the Speaker Comfortable

If the speaker does not feel free to speak, then the communication will not be clear. He will look for ways to convey his message indirectly. I am sure you do not want that!

Use positive body language to convey to the speaker that he can speak what is on his mind

4# Take Care of Distractions

Phone calls, visitors, noise, tasks at hand etc are some of the distracters that can prevent you from listening.

To concentrate on what is being said, stop doing everything else, look at the speaker and bring your mind towards the message that the speaker is conveying.

5# Identify with the Speaker

It is very important not to cloud your judgment with past experiences, beliefs and perceptions.

Try to understand the perspective of the speaker as well. Open-mindedness is the best quality a good listener must possess. If you disagree with something, make sure you “listen to” the argument of the speaker and then say something afterwards. Do not start preparing your argument while the others are talking.

6# Let the Speaker Finish

Give the speaker time to finish what he is saying. I have seen man people vehemently shaking their heads or hands to indicate that they disagree even before the other person has finished.

Also, many times we tend to get impatient and finish the other person’s sentences for him.  Let me tell you that it is not a good habit if you want to become a good listener.

7# Keep Away From Individual Prejudices

If you do not like someone picking his nose, that should not stop you from listening to him. Our biases color our perceptions. If a person’s actions or habits annoy you, don’t let that distract you at all. Focus all your attention on what is said rather than what is done.

8# Listen to Voice Modulation

Pitch, rate of speech, tone and volume speak louder than the words being said.

When someone is speaking, ensure that you watch their voice modulation closely in order to catch their emotion.

9# Get the Holistic Picture

Look at the broader picture instead of looking at the parts. If you try to interpret the whole picture through parts, then you have not listened well.

This is true especially when listening to resolve conflicts or a complaining customer. This quality is useful when dealing with difficult situations.  Join together pieces of ideas and information to reveal the entire picture.

10# Wait and Watch for Non-Verbal Communication

It involves observing nonverbal signs and signals minutely, gauging the discrepancies between verbal and nonverbal cues and signs as well. For example, if a child is weeping and saying I am all right, then he clearly is not all right. As his verbal and nonverbal cues are in conflict with each other.

Make your team members plan to build a tower to make them listen to each other well.

Activity Towering Up!
preparation newspapers and a roll of sticky tape per team
running time 15 minutes
Environment enough space to work in
Teams two or more teams, three or four people per team
Instruction the group is split into teams of three to four people. This exercise will work only with two or more teams. The teams are given the challenge to build the tallest free-standing tower they can, using only the paper and tape given by you. At the end of the time period, the towers must be totally unsupported.
Feedback There may not be an outright winner, as the ceiling could limit height, but be prepared to choose a winner on a combination of height and artistic appeal- or several winners. If any of the towers looks particularly flimsy, try blowing them to see if they fall over- this will amuse the other teams- but still count them as successful. the exercise benefits from silly prizes, e.g. small bag of sweets.
Outcome The tower building exercise gets the team working together, but the primary aim is to get the individuals involved doing something completely different from the task in hand to increase creativity.

To keep yourself motivated like our Facebook Page Daily Motivation by Dr. Vivek Bindra and subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more Inspirational videos.

 

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