When you take the time to listen – really listen and show that you listen – your people feel heard. In a world when this has become a rarity rather than the norm, your people will see you as something special and will be much more inclined to stay – and do more for you too.
Listening builds relationships like nothing else.
Whilst most managers need to have their ego-stroked a lot – and achieve this by talking a lot – the most capable managers understand that by actively listening to their people, they are doing so much more for their management outcomes than simply hearing their own voice.
So, what does ‘actively’ listening look like?
The best active listeners will usually:
1. Pay full attention – giving people your complete attention when they speak shows them that what they are saying is of value.
2. Make good eye contact – looking at them shows that you are interested and – in that moment – fully engaged with just them.
3. Avoid being interrupted – is courteous and shows them they are the most valuable person at that time.
4. Show good body language – smiles; facial expressions; openness of stance all encourage them to say their piece.
5. Ask questions about what you hear – showing them that what they have said adds value and builds confidence, encouraging even more input.
6. Follow up on what you hear – simple follow-ups are incredibly valuable to the relationship and show you think highly enough of them to go further on what they said.
7. Show appreciation for the input – a simple thank you is more valuable than making an excuse or arguing the case. It’s hard for people to contribute, so make the interaction easy.
8. Be consistent – this is not a one-off occasion where you listen like crazy. It’s about who you are and as they appreciate this, they will want to say more.
9. Let go of your agenda – listening is about them; creating open space for them to think out loud. So give it to them; still your mind.
10. Make time for people – this is a habit that takes time to get right and once you see the value of creating time for individuals and it becomes second nature, you will love it as much as they do!
If you are going to listen, do it! Make the space and be the active listener that they so want you to be. There are no short-cuts and no easy options, yet, it’s not that difficult to achieve.
And the rewards are such a win-win!