Effective communication and active listening are two mandatory skills for developing and maintaining positive relationships. While communicating verbally and in writing (through conversation and presentations) seem to be where we spend most of our time honing our skills, we can’t neglect the power of active listening.
To be clear, active listening is not thinking about what you’re going to say next while the other person is talking. It’s also not letting your mind wander to other places, including what’s for lunch. It’s also not allowing the conversation to take an errant turn where you lose control of the goal of your communication.
Instead, active listening means making a conscious effort to tune into content and nuances of communication, giving enough time between the speaker’s final word and your first. It also means that you make good eye contact and are solely focused on what is being said.
When you are a good listener, people are naturally drawn to you. And as a professional, leader, executive or manager it is a mandatory communication skill, but often one that is taken for granted.
Here are a few reasons why honing your active listening skills will naturally lead to career advancement.
- Listening makes others feel valued. Our world is filled with busyness and distraction and we are all vying for the right to be heard. When you stop and take time to fully listen to someone, whether it’s in a meeting, casual conversation or presentation, you are sending the message that the speaker is valued and that says a lot about who you are as a consummate professional.
- Listening builds trust. It’s being open to receive without being critical. Rather focus on what is being said and why this communication is important to the speaker. Neither avoid being closed off nor entering into the conversation with preconceived notions or discriminatory opinions. If you are a person who is trustworthy, keeps others’ confidences and is easy to approach, you are also the person that others want on their team or to follow as their leader.
- Listening drives respect. We all want to be recognized and respected and there is no easier way to do so than by becoming a good listener. People are drawn to others who have a sincere interest in what they have to say. When you do have the opportunity to share, use their name often and reiterate what you heard for clarity, as this is not only affirming but also respectful. And who doesn’t want to hire, promote and follow a professional with whom they’ve built a relationship of mutual respect?
How to Be Career Happy? Be a Good Listener