Improving Listening Skills for a More Harmonious Workplace

Game of Knights

Improving listening skills is rapidly becoming one of the most requested reasons to host a team building event.  To have good listening skills means that you can be sympathetic to people’s needs, help to come up with workable solutions to problems, and become more approachable in the eyes of your colleagues and the general public.  Being able to listen, as opposed to simply hearing, means your company can be more productive, trouble shoot more effectively and generally increase all-round communication and confidence in the workplace.

To become a good listener you need to be able to put a few basic skills into practice:

Be Approachable

Having an open door policy where anyone can pop by your office or desk to discuss things that may be concerning them will help you address problems before they become too much of an issue.  It will also increase people’s confidence in you.

Put People at Ease

Put the phone down (or turn it off) and make sure you won’t be disturbed by anyone.  Have the person sit down and make themselves comfortable and watch your body language; ideally you should both be at the same level so you should also be sat down and eye contact should be encouraging and not intimidating.  Find somewhere private to speak if the person is worried about being overheard.

When listening in group meetings, ensure that everyone is allowed their say without any interruptions, takes notes so you can remember who said what and encourage people to contribute with their ideas and opinions.

Don’t Speak

To effectively listen, you must stop talking.  Allow the other person to say what they need to say without interruptions.  Avoid finishing their sentences for them or simply dismissing their concerns.  Even if you can’t actually help them, wait until they have finished and offer some practical advice or point them to the person who might be able to sort out their issue.

Ask Questions

When it is your turn to speak, ask relevant questions to clarify the situation.  Do you need to hear from other colleagues to better understand what is happening?  If so, invite those people to come and talk to you as well.

Invite the person to come up with answers and solutions themselves, don’t dismiss these out of hand, if they really won’t work explain why and steer them towards another path.

Host a team building event that focuses on listening

Many of our musical team building events require people to hone their listening skills to get the best out of the activities.  Events such as the Drumming Workshop requires people to really get in tune with each other and The Crystal Maze will ensure that teams need to listen as well as they speak to complete the various tasks.