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Active Listening at Work

Listening is an art form. Active listening is about connecting with others and empathizing with them


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Andrea Huls

3 years ago | 2 min read

Active listening can positively impact your relationships at work, and it could help you achieve several short and long-term goals.

Since becoming a mom, I've been reading about positive discipline and the importance of being present. Many experts encourage parents to practice active listening to deal with difficult situations positively and constructively.

Active listening is about connecting, paying attention, being present, and empathizing.

I began to think about how active listening is an essential life skill worth cultivating and practicing in all relationships and environments.

Learning to listen actively can lead to:

  • a productive exchange of ideas
  • finding creative solutions
  • a healthy work environment
  • de-escalating conflict

What is active listening?

Active listening is about paying close attention to how a person communicates a message: tone of voice, body language, and word choice.

We should learn to listen with our eyes, our ears, our mind, and our heart. Even at work.

It sounds easy, but listening, really listening, is a challenge.

During a conversation, we might get caught up with counter-arguments that we miss an opportunity to connect genuinely.

To innovate, establish new strategies, and optimize processes, we must actively listen to our colleagues.

At work, we're frequently busy with our daily tasks, team targets, or reports that we might not be fully listening to our team.

There are days that I want to get through my to-do list as fast as I can that I find myself multitasking while speaking with someone.

When you start speaking with a colleague, stop everything else you’re doing. Be present. Focus. Listen with your whole body.

How do I practice active listening?

These are some of the things you can do to practice active listening at work:

  • Listen with all your senses.
  • Don’t get distracted by what's happening around you
  • Make eye contact
  • Nod your head and smile
  • Ask for clarification
  • Reflect on what is being said
  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes

Listening is about engaging with the other person.

Active listening will help you earn your teammates' trust and develop creative and actionable solutions.

Try to remain as open as possible and avoid interrupting or rushing through the conversation.

Active Listening and Working From Home

Communication has never been as vital as it is today. While working from home has allowed many of us to keep our jobs, we mostly communicate through screens. There are situations when our ideas or our message can get lost.

I’m more careful about the words I use when writing an email or a chat. Written language is easy to misinterpret. Depending on the case, I try to have a video chat instead of an email exchange to avoid misunderstandings.

On a video call, it’s essential to show that we’re paying attention. We should make a more significant effort to connect with our colleagues and our team through a screen. For those working from home, active listening can help us communicate better.

What do you think? Could active listening make a difference where you work?

Photo credit: Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

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