Verbal communication involves both speaking and listening. In a business organization, listening is key to effective working relationships among employees and between management and staff. Listening skills also impact a company’s interaction with customers and other businesses. To improve your listening skills, give the other person your full attention and maintain eye contact. When she is done speaking, rephrase her remarks and ask whether you understand her correctly. Continue to ask questions to gain a better understanding of her statements.
Listening enables you to acquire facts so that you can make decisions that benefit your business. By listening to a job applicant in an interview, for example, you might discover his attitudes toward the profession, performance in previous jobs and information not detailed on his resume. This additional insight can help you decide whether the applicant is a good fit for your company. A supervisor who listens to an employee’s complaint about a health risk on the job might reduce injuries and enhance job performance.
Listening is essential to building trust. If one member of a team doesn’t listen to instructions, an entire project might fail. To develop trust, pay attention to verbal instructions and deadlines. Listen for statements a coworker might make regarding his own strengths and weaknesses as it relates to a project, so that you can collaborate in a way that maximizes each other’s strengths.
The reputation of a business depends upon listening skills. If you fail to listen to a customer, for example, the customer might not receive the service or product she expected. When this occurs repeatedly, it can tarnish the company’s reputation. A company develops relationships with other businesses through verbal communication, too. Talking on the phone and working on a task at the same time can result in misunderstandings.
Listening can reduce conflict. A conflict can arise when an individual feels misunderstood or mistreated. For example, if you fail to listen to instructions and your coworker does the task you were supposed to perform, the coworker might be unhappy with you. Pay attention to nonverbal cues, as well. If an individual’s facial expressions, gestures or behavior contradict her words, ask questions to find out what she really means.
A manager can improve morale and productivity by understanding what motivates each employee. Listen to employees to discover what aspects of the job they find most rewarding and challenging. Don’t expect to understand an employee’s needs from a single conversation. Continue to be an attentive listener so that the employee knows you are sincerely interested in what she has to say.