Supervising People and the Art of Listening

In a typical day we spend over 45 percent of our time listening. Effective listening is critical to any supervisor’s success. The US Department of Labor statistics revealed in a 1999 study that 46 percent of people that quit their job did so because they felt unheard and underappreciated.

Good listening skills benefit both your personal and business relationships. There are numerous studies on how listening is a primary skill required for success. Listening is more than hearing someone talk it is about understanding what they are communicating to you. It requires that you pay close attention, focus on what they are saying,not only with their voice but their body as well. Caring about what others have to say is at the heart of listening so try to put yourself in their shoes and consider what you are hearing. Even if your employee is mistaken or misguided, this can be an excellent opportunity to set the record straight.

Listening Tips

  • Stop what you are doing, make eye contact and listen with your whole body.
  • Let others finish their thoughts without interrupting them. Nothing is more annoying than having someone rush them by finishing their thoughts. What you have to say is not more important than what the other person has to say. It may be a struggle, but don’t interrupt—unless the office is on fire.
  • Ask follow-up questions if you don’t understand and need clarification. Making the other person feel recognized and valued is paramount.
  • Repeat back what you think you heard in your own words to communicate whether or not you understand.

Employees will communicate with you when they are provided the opportunity and understanding that that it is okay for them to speak openly.. Create an open door policy and inform employees they can talk to you any time. Good leaders are good listeners; it is how problems are solved, people are inspired, trust is built and appreciation is expressed.

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