Being an effective listener is one of the most important skills you can possess. When you demonstrate you're genuinely listening to others, it has a tremendous effect on relationships, especially when focusing on employee relations.
Our world seems to thrive on multi-tasking now more than ever. Consequently, the art of listening becomes a challenge.
When we multi-task, we concentrate on more than one thing simultaneously, which fragments our focus and negatively affects our listening skills. It's easy to forget how important active listening is and exactly what we need to do to really listen and get the whole picture.
How many times have you been in a conversation when you or the other participant is simultaneously looking at their phone or working on something else? In casual conversations, you can often get away with this. But when it comes to employee relations, the effects can be particularly challenging.
It's easy to forget how critical active listening is and precisely what we need to do to listen and get the whole picture. But if we don't take the time to learn to listen and then put those skills to use, employee relations will suffer from the get-go.
Is Listening the Secret Ingredient to Positive Employee Relations?
Consider these statistics:
Did you know that in a spoken message…
- 7% is conveyed by the words used
- 38% is indicated by the tone of the voice
- 55% of the meaning is translated non-verbally
* Source: Mehrabian, 1981
You want to hear what is being said and what isn't being said.
If we only convey 7% of what we verbalize to others, we must fully engage and actively listen.
We must also consider that listening is about much more than just hearing the words being spoken. It's about really focusing on the person speaking.
Have you ever been part of a conversation where it feels like the other person is waiting for their turn to speak rather than truly listening? Or maybe you've been guilty of that yourself (most of us have). While the other person may carry on speaking, it doesn't mean they don't pick up on your lack of attention and focus on what they have to say.
Can you imagine how damaging this can be for employee relations? Or relationships of all kinds, for that matter.
Don't think ahead when someone is talking. Instead, listen to them in the moment. Pay attention to the speed, volume, and voice tone. So often, messages live below the surface and aren't evident unless we're really paying attention.
How listening impacts business and employee relations.When consulting, I find poor listening causes the most significant challenges. When employees misinterpret what is or isn't said, team members often take offense to the content. Or, perhaps even worse, disconnecting entirely. Ultimately, this negatively impacts employee relations and overall productivity.
Active listening asks appropriate questions to seek clarification and information when you don't fully comprehend what the speaker is saying. Through consulting, I've seen the direct correlation between listening and employee relations.
The bottom line is, poor listening skills threaten team interactions.
Here's the thing: you can develop the art of listening or enhance your listening skills merely by practicing. It's a skill you can develop like any other.
And why not take the time to do this? After all, you'll benefit tremendously the more you focus on building your listening skills. And it won't only be you who benefits from listening. You'll find personal and employee relations improve almost instantly just by taking the time to listen.
Listening also relates directly to emotional intelligence. When we understand the importance of listening and how it makes us more effective leaders, everything changes. If you're interested in learning even more about leading effectively, take a look at this workshop next: Leading With Emotional Effectiveness.
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This article was originally published on April 14, 2017, and has been updated (June 2021).
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