Active listening is an important skill to have in any profession, especially if it revolves around working in a team. But what is active listening, and why is it so important?
Active listening is the ability to listen to a speaker, understand what it is they are saying and to reflect, then respond to what they are saying. Active listening goes beyond listening to what someone is actually saying. Active listening takes it a step further. It involves reading body language, listening to the little details and piecing together all of the sentences to find some potential hidden details. This is an especially important skill if you wish to be a team leader.
Why is active listening important? Active listening is important as it is a skill that can be used to build trust, develop relationships and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your team. If a member of your team is coming to you for advice or to provide you with support, it is up to you to listen to what they say and show that you understand what they are telling you. You need to show this person that you understand them, and what they are saying and show you are proactive in finding an outcome / providing support. If you can actively listen and be proactive when communicating with your team, they will find comfort in confiding with you. Not only will active listening develop a sense of trust, it can help build stronger relationships. Whether with your team, new business partners or a customer, actively listening to someone can really make a difference when it comes to interacting with them. Showing that you are interested and care about what the speaker is saying will allow them to be more open.
In the workplace, it is important that things run smoothly and effectively. Your ability to listen to the people around you, and actually understand what they are doing, will help things run like clockwork.
So how can active listening be beneficial in your career?
Well, active listening helps to reduce misunderstandings. When you listen to others, you get an understanding of what they are doing. Active listening takes it a step further and requires the listener to ask questions and be proactive to make sure the speaker is heard and understood. By asking questions, you are able to get all of the details you need to avoid any misunderstandings or confusion. A team leader who actively listens can assign new tasks, find more suitable work for their employees and assist their team if and when they need it.
Poor listening makes way for conflict, being unable to listen to what people have to say may irritate people and ultimately cause a breakdown in relationships. Conflict in the workplace can damage productivity, efficiency and enjoyment so it is really important to listen to the team and be proactive in your response.
It is also important that you know, active listening doesn’t require you to constantly agree with your team or clients. Of course, there will be times when your active listening will result in a disagreement. By actively listening you may be able to pick up on those small details you may have missed before, and be able to ask more questions or disagree with statements. Active listening is a skill and a tool for you to use in your day-to-day interactions. Your active listening shouldn’t stop once you have left your workplace. You can use this skill wherever you are, interacting with a whole range of different people.
Active listening can make a great difference when it comes to first impressions too. After all you only have one chance to make a first impression, so why not make a good one?
When you are interacting with your clients or colleagues for the first time, there will be new people to meet that you will be working with. It is important that you make a good first impression with these people and by actively listening to them, you will be able to pick up on smaller details about their personal lives, work lives or tasks they enjoy completing. You can then use this information to develop closer bonds with these people, assign tasks to your team and to ask a suitable team member for the best advice with tasks you are unsure of. They may even do the same back because if you are known to actively listen to people, you come across as someone who cares and genuinely wants to find a solution.
When it comes to your clients, active listening will be crucial to the success of your business. Whether you’re a business owner, a mentor or a team leader, being able to actively listen to people will enable customers or clients to get the product they actually need. This could lead to repeat custom which would benefit you in the long run, so it really does pay to go that extra mile and really listen to someone’s needs.
Retaining information, asking questions and understanding what you are being asked are all valuable skills that fall into active listening. Active listening shows that you are able to take in information and use what is being said to push forward with your work and maybe even take your work to another level.
Finally, your ability to actively listen helps you to prevent missing important information. As an active listener, you can understand the whole message the speaker is trying to put across, with that, you become more engaged and are able to absorb more details than before. Even as a leader it is important that you retain details that are crucial to your team as they may require the same assistance you needed so long ago. When you are able to absorb information through conversation, you may develop the ability to anticipate future problems. Active listeners make sure they are correct in their understanding so they can gauge whether the problem actually exists. Importantly, you’re allowing yourself to develop an entire sense of the problem and evaluate all the different aspects, this will enable you to detect problems on your own and tackle issues as they arise.
Active listening is an important skill for everyone to have, no matter where you are in your career and personal life. Being able to genuinely understand each other, and provide support based on those little details is really important. In the workplace, it can make you stand out and really bring your team closer together, knowing there is someone who actively listens and cares about what is being said.
Being aware of this skill is just the first step in improving your communication skills and personal presentation.
One role, where active listening is a crucial skill, is mentoring. You will need to use active listening skills each time you meet with a client to identify your client’s needs, understand the best way in which you can support them and understand how the business support you provide may affect the business you are supporting. By undertaking one of our mentoring qualifications you will be prompted to develop your active listening skills as well as learn the relevant knowledge and techniques that a mentor uses. To find out more about our online mentoring qualification, and how you can improve your active listening skills, head to our campus here: https://campus.ioee.uk/courses/award-in-enterprise-mentoring/