That’s it. That’s how you immediately improve communication both in and out of the workplace. Sounds simple, right? It can be more difficult than you think. Most of us are wired to to respond, not listen. We are used to explaining ourselves, why our ideas are the right way to go, or why someone else is wrong.
Listening more, however, is the single best way to drastically improve communication. Most of the time, people just want to be heard.
Are you talking more than listening?
A great way to measure how much you’re really listening to your employees or colleagues is to reflect on a conversation you recently had, or major/important meeting you had that you remember vividly, and think about not what YOU said, but what others who were a part of the conversation said. Many times when recounting a story about a situation in the workplace, we’re able to reflect on what we said or how we responded or how we felt. Less often, however, do we find it easy to reflect on what others said or how they felt.
If there were a disagreement or a constructive conversation in the workplace, would you be able to confidently answer the following:
What did the other person say?
How did they feel?
What did they think about the situation?
What was their response to the things YOU said?
What, if any, solutions or next steps did they propose?
Hopefully you can answer at least one of those questions. Chances are, however, you could answer all of these questions if you were asked about yourself and not the other person. Did you allow the other person the opportunity to share? If you did, were you able to truly listen?
At the very core of good communication is the skill of listening.
If you feel lack of good communication is hindering your workplace, it may be time to look at how you can take a proactive approach at helping your team move forward.
Here are some easy ways to immediately improve communication:
▶ Approach each conversation with an open mind.
▶ If you’re not sure how to respond, consider letting the other(s) know that you hear what they have to say and would like some time to reflect on it before continuing the conversation. Do be sure to pick up on it later, however, and don’t leave it unfinished. Taking time to think before you react and respond can sometimes save a conversation, project, or relationship. Of course this only works in instances where time is on your side.
▶ Use reflective listening; use phrases such as “I hear what you’re saying” or “So to recap, when the project details changed, it made you feel _____”
▶ Above all, be willing to listen to others.
Of course, some things don’t just change overnight. Over the course of time, using these techniques will prove helpful in shifting your communication and workplace culture.
Does your team help with communication? Contact Eagle Mountain today.