Better Listening at WorkHow often do you really listen to others at work?

Effective listening in all conversations is critical to workplace success and it will positively impact your performance and your relationships at work.

When you are really listening, the person you are listening to feels valued and understood is more likely to be open and honest with you and you will gain greater insight and make better decisions and choices in your role.

Here are some tips and ideas to help you be a good listener at work:

Allow enough time

Many conversations at work are rushed and don't reach a satisfactory conclusion resulting in further meetings being required. Consider how long you need for a conversation and allow enough time in your schedule.

Pay attention and be fully present.

Have you been trying to listen to another person with your mind was full of thoughts about all sorts of other things? Try setting aside your thoughts, focusing on being present in the moment, and giving 100% of your attention to the other person.

Really listen

Are you really listening or just paying lip service to what the other person is saying? Really listening involves not only hearing, but also understanding what is being said, including picking up what the other person is thinking, feeling, and how they see the world.

Don’t get distracted

You will not be listening if you are distracted by background conversations, the phone ringing, or other interruptions. To really hear what the other person is saying find the right location to have the conversation and minimize distractions.

Do not interrupt

During your conversations are you just listening for the time when you can interrupt and speak? In these situations, very little listening is happening. Listen to the other person and allow them to finish what they want to say before you speak.

Show that you are listening

When you are speaking to another person and they are not listening you will notice this due to how the person is behaving. Therefore, show you are listening by using your body language to convey this (e.g. nods, smiles, an open posture, etc.) and also by using short verbal comments (e.g. yes, okay, etc.).

Allow the silence

During a conversation, the speaker may go silent because they are processing information or thinking. If you allow the silence and wait, you may find that something critical to the conversation is then said.

Reflect back

You may be listening and think that you understand what the other person has said but they were trying to say something quite different. To enhance understanding reflect back on what you think the other person is saying by paraphrasing, clarifying points with them, asking questions for better understanding, and summarising what you are hearing.

Notice if you are not listening

It is easy to start daydreaming when you are listening to someone and miss key information. Notice if you are not listening, bring your attention back quickly and ask for clarification so that you are up to date with what is being said.

Agree on the key points of the conversation at the end

How many meetings and conversations have you been involved in where it is not clear what was agreed? Agree on the key points and what has been agreed in the conversation at the end and check that everyone is in agreement.

Learn more

Why not try some of these tips and strategies to enhance improve your listening at work?

If you want to explore communication further, you can take one of our communication courses on MMC:

Communication for business, aimed at business owners, directors, and managers, covers how to improve your communication and relationships at work and in business; and

Communication for life, for everyone else, covers communication and relationships in life and at work.

Author Photo

Liz is an experienced business coach, business mentor, and stress management consultant with over 25 years of business experience at senior management and director level, as well as a Masters's degree in Coaching and Behavioural Change. Liz has been running her own business since 2002, which provides business coaching, business mentoring, and stress management to business owners, directors, managers, and professionals from small and medium-sized companies to international organizations. Liz support clients to maximize the performance of their business, to maximize their own personal performance at work and with stress management at work and in their life.
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