SmartCompany Positive Psychology Blog

SmartCompany Positive Psychology Blog

Read, below, my latest Positive Psychology Coaching blog from SmartCompany where I regularly write about applying the principles of positive psychology and finding happiness in all aspects of life.

Times are tough and everyone’s stressed; I’m a manager and find that much of my time at the moment is being spent trying to reassure my team and colleagues, but there are some who, despite my best efforts, don’t seem to feel they’re being heard. How do I let them know that I’m aware of their concerns?

Communication skills are obviously vitally important for all of us in any context, but they’re especially important for those wanting to be great managers and/or leaders, and they’re especially important during these current, difficult times. Just as obviously, communication is a two-way process and involves listening just as much (if not more) as it involves talking.

Many people, however, fail to perform this (that is, the listening) part of the communication process effectively, either because they forget to do it at all, or they view it as a primarily passive activity.

But when conducted properly and effectively, listening should be approached as one would approach any other activity. After all, we were given two ears and one mouth for a reason!

Remember to listen next time you’re communicating; and implement the following strategies next time you’re listening as part of your attempts to communicate more effectively and notice the significant benefits that can be realised.

– Prepare for your involvement in the interaction by ensuring you’ve turned off or blocked out any potential distractions phones, email alerts etc).

Don’t interrupt, finish other people’s sentences, or draw conclusions before the other person has finished what they have to say.

– Treat the other person, and their opinions, with respect (you don’t have to agree with them, but they do have a right to their opinion).

– Actively encourage the other person to express their views by letting them know you’re genuinely interested (this can be achieved by responding with a genuine “ah ha” or a nod at regular intervals).

– Display to the other person the fact that you’re listening by, at regular and appropriate moments, briefly summarising their opinions and/or reflecting on what they’re saying or feeling. Ideally, use the other person’s words and language as much as possible. This can also provide a way of checking whether you’ve understood the other person or not and help avoid continuing the conversation based on misinterpretations.

– If you’re not sure you understand the other person, then don’t be afraid to check in with them.

– Listen not just with your ears but also with your eyes and body (for example, maintain steady eye contact and nod, or engage in other appropriate behaviours).

As hinted at above, practicing these strategies does NOT mean you have to agree with everything the other person is saying. Rather it means doing all you can to understand what they’re saying so you can then acknowledge what’s important to them, and subsequently decide how best to respond.

Active listening has several benefits. First, it enables people to listen attentively to others. Second, it avoids misunderstandings. Third, it tends to engage and open people up, making it easier for them to say more. If both parties do this, the chances of being able to develop a solution become much greater.