You might be listening to someone speak, but are you really paying attention? This question is gaining popularity in business, as employers and employees discover the benefits of active listening.
By learning to recognise verbal and non-verbal cues, you can intuitively reflect on the information and provide an insightful response to the speaker’s key points.
To help you understand how to apply this skill in various contexts, we’ve put together a collection of helpful tips that ensure you master the art of active listening.
From jobseekers looking to ace an interview to managers needing to navigate a complex situation, apply these techniques to communicate better.
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Active listening for jobseekers
Are you looking to land your dream job? Active listening is a vital skill when sitting down for an interview, networking with influential figures or chatting with business representatives at career fairs. Check out these tips to make the best impression on others.
1. Make eye contact
Some people find it difficult to maintain eye contact. However, this mannerism shows that you’re interested in the conversation and have confidence in yourself – both critical factors in a job interview. According to presentation coach Graham Davies, holding eye contact for 85-90% of the conversation is ideal for high-pressure settings.
2. Avoid interrupting
Being a great active listener means letting the other person speak without interruption. Rather than jumping in mid-conversation, let them finish before building on their idea or offering an alternative opinion. For example, a hiring manager might ask you to address a hypothetical situation. Allow them to finish describing the example before speaking to ensure you have all the information.
3. Clarify and summarise
You can showcase your active listening skills in a job interview or networking session by summarising or clarifying the speaker’s points in your response. If someone uses a recent anecdote to explain a situation, deliver an insightful reply that builds on this information. This highlights how you were listening carefully during their speech.
Active listening for employees
Active listening comes in handy throughout almost every aspect of professional life. Full-time employers benefit from greater attentiveness in meetings, appraisals and simple day-to-day interactions. Try these tips to level up your performance.
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1. Let others speak
Most workplaces are highly collaborative environments where multiple people must have a say in a project’s direction. Develop your active listening skills to work effectively with colleagues, managers and clients throughout countless business contexts. This approach will help you deliver better work that makes you a standout employee.
2. Watch for non-verbal cues
It’s easy to miss crucial non-verbal cues in strategy meetings and client interactions if you lack active listening skills. However, with a little effort, you can recognise how different facial expressions, tone of voice and body language can signal something deeper about the conversation. This information can help you work increasingly effectively with others.
3. Listen without judgement
Disagreements will always occur, but becoming a better active listener can help you navigate these situations to arrive at the ideal outcome. By mastering how to fight negative reactions to certain words and gestures, you can process the information with an open mind and offer a productive response.
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Active listening for employers
Active listening is more than just a useful tool for employees. Business owners and managers can use this technique to achieve the best results in stay interviews, exit interviews, employee appraisals and brainstorming sessions. Train your active listening skills to become a better boss.
1. Think about talent development
Don’t overlook the importance of high-quality feedback. 65% of employees want to receive more of it. Active listening helps you pay close attention to proposals and provide precise feedback that improves someone’s work. This way, workers feel like their talents are constantly developing.
2. Be open to learning
Even if your experience and expertise far exceed employees lower down the hierarchy, it doesn’t mean you’ll always make the right decision. By appreciating the importance of active listening, you can recognise great ideas that deliver a solution you hadn’t previously considered.
3. Examine the issue
Asking the right question during a business meeting can help the business avoid costly mistakes. When strategising the organisation’s next steps, practice active listening to fully understand the issue and ask relevant questions that reveal potential problems.