In today’s rampant challenging workplace, communication is a crucial skill. Communication requires to occur at all levels i.e. departments, staff, teams and clients. But often a neglected skill of communication is listening, an innate part of everything we do. Communicating enables a flow of ideas and information whereas listening may be passive and less energetic than talking, explaining or negotiating but active listening is the secret ingredient to all of the above. Listening is an interpersonal skill that equips an individual to uncover and understand the needs, requirements and hidden preferences of another individual.
The act of listening will help enrich the workplace relationships, improve group productivity and boost the morale of the employees. Conflicts may arise from communication, but misunderstanding can be resolved into positive action with active listening. Active listening has various personal and interpersonal benefits and is the key to getting the most from a conversation. An average person listens with only 25% efficiency since listening is interpreted as a misunderstood skill. Active listening is giving complete and intentional focus to what someone is saying rather than what their words literally mean. Peter Drucker, a successful consultant said, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”
According to a study, those who listen to understanding have a better and happier relationships with others. Better conclusions will be drawn once the other person has finished speaking. It takes time to completely understand what someone is saying and the true meaning behind their words.
People need to listen at least as much as they need to talk, and many people fail to realise that true communication goes in both directions. Active listening is a key element of productivity in the workplace. Employers who fail to listen to their employees run the risk of losing them as if they do not feel heard they may feel resentment at their job and seek other opportunities.
Active listening improves workplace performance as when workers feel comfortable voicing opinions and ideas amongst a group they feel a sense of being heard and their productivity increases. The positivity of an environment that values listening works wonders to improve productivity and efficiency. Listening will decrease misunderstandings and helps employees feel more energized and focused as they are being heard.
Active listening reduces stress as an individual gets completely caught up in what the other is saying. Listening also builds confidence as you can patiently expand your perspective by taking in the thoughts and feelings of others which makes you more secure in your own values.
The most important component of listening is to remember to allow others to finish their thoughts before starting your own. It is essential to notice non-verbal clues, whether they are tone of voice or body language and it is vital to encourage the speaker through positive questions, eye contact and focus.