Active listening is more than just nodding your head and answering on "auto-pilot." Old habits are hard to break, but listening to your coworkers or managers (no matter how horrible that sounds right now) can actually help you in more ways that you may realize.
Benefits of Active Listening
In addition to helping you be more productive and reach your goals more quickly, there are several benefits to being an active listener.
You will be less distracted and less likely to misunderstand what is being said.
You will be perceived as a more caring and trustworthy asset.
You will be more focused and ultimately get more done more quickly.
You will not have to repeat anything over again.
What Does An Active Listener Look Like?
An active listener maintains eye contact and pays attention. Active listening requires that you not interrupt the person speaking including asking questions or finishing his or her sentences.
Active listeners not only nod their heads but lean in toward the speaker, respond to non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, and wait to ask appropriate questions.
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How To Improve Your Active Listening Skills At Work?
While it may be difficult to concentrate on anything else but your task at hand, practicing active listening at work is a great way to stand out to employers and other coworkers. Here are a couple easy exercises to try when at work:
RELAX OR RESCHEDULE
The best thing you can do to improve your active listening skills is to relax. When you are stressed out and unable to concentrate, you really won't do well listening to instruction.
Free your mind from distraction, or ask the person who wants to talk to you if you can find them in fifteen minutes or so. Asking to reschedule will give you time to wrap up what you are working on and clear your mind so you can focus.
There are different types of feedback that you can give that will encourage you to listen more closely. First you can give feedback using body language such as smiling, opening your posture, and giving small encouraging comments such as "Yes," and, "Continue."
You can repeat or paraphrase what you heard to ensure that your assumptions and judgments didn't distort what you heard. Asking questions appropriately to clarify what was said is another great way to give feedback.
When you listen to someone else, you are gaining information and a new perspective. Candidly and honestly respond, but don't put down the speaker. If your opinion differs, validate the other person's perspective before asserting your ideas respectfully.