Active listening is a great way to reduce miscommunication at work, and it's not hard to learn. I remember in the past noticing a team member was sitting around me, seeming anxious or not themselves. I decided to invite her to my office and close the door, I just asked “what could be going on, are you ok?” She really appreciated I noticed and took the time to check on her well-being. After this experience, I started actively listening more often, and it was helpful in so many ways: -I learned that some people are more comfortable talking about their problems in private than they are in front of others (even if they're not trying to hide anything) -It gave me a chance to show my team members that I care about them as people who have lives outside of work.
Here are a few ways you can incorporate active listening into your daily routine and make sure you're always communicating effectively:
Say, "I hear you." This is a simple way to reiterate that you've heard what the other person has said, but they might not be done speaking yet!
Ask questions. If it looks like there's more the other person wants to say, ask them questions about what they just said until they're satisfied with how you've understood their point.
Use nonverbal cues. When someone tells you something important, show them that you're paying attention by nodding or leaning forward in your chair. You can also use facial expressions, like smiling or raising an eyebrow when someone says something surprising or interesting.
Don't interrupt! It's tempting to jump in and start explaining your point as soon as someone else finishes speaking, but resist this urge! If someone else is talking, let them finish before jumping in with your thoughts and opinions—this will give them space to feel heard and understood before bringing up anything new themselves.
One critical point in active listening is tuning into another person's perspective. When tuning into this, we need to be able to clear our minds from our own thoughts. As we think about removing the clutter from our minds for the person in front of us, we need to remember to reflect on requests, so they feel truly heard. When we are actively listening, we are removing our filters and seeking to serve them and give them the attention they deserve.