Are You an Active Listener?

When to not speak...and just listen.

Apr 2, 2019

Do you know what the hardest part of listening is? Knowing that it’s not all about YOU! Listening is about empathy. It's about caring what the other person is saying instead of thinking about how it affects you. It’s about reaching out of your own self and entering a world where you are not the main focus. It’s about listening to a topic that may not interest you or involve you.  It’s about making more effective relationships with others.

How to become a better active listener.

Assume Positive Role

Most people just want someone to listen. A grumpy co-worker, who may give you short answers, is probably not directing the abruptness at you.  People tend to grow preoccupied when carrying heavy burdens, and often just talking about it lightens the load.  In that situation, the best thing to do is just listen.  You may not be comfortable with the topic or even want to give an opinion, but you're probably not expected to.  Just listening goes a long way in building relationships.

Learning When Not to Respond

When the person is talking, a slight pause isn’t necessarily an invitation for you to steal the floor, so to speak.  Sometimes the person is thinking about what to say. Instead of seizing the chance to speak your mind, process what has been said and ask follow-up questions, or just give them a second to collect their thoughts. Remember, active listening is not about you. Taking the topic and turning it into something you said or you did is not always the best approach. If it’s relevant and would help the situation, then it's acceptable to share your experiences.  Just as crucial, however, is remembering that sometimes it’s best just to listen. 

Ask Questions To Engage

If you are having a conversation with a friend or co-worker and you don’t understand a term or acronym, ask about it. If you get caught just nodding along or displaying a blank stare, you won’t win any points. In personal conversations, it’s always positive to ask someone to clarify or to say more about the topic. It not only shows that you are interested, but it also demonstrates that you are not afraid to learn or clarify something that you don’t know.  No one likes the person who pretends to know everything.

Reflect Back What You Hear

Taking the time to summarize what has been said and to check your level of understanding not only makes the other person feel that you value their perspective, but it can also save time and frustration down the road. Reflecting back what you hear is a powerful way to make sure that you’re on the same page and working toward the same goal.

The Unspoken Language

There is more to a conversation than the spoken word.  A sudden shift in body language, a change in tone or pace in their voice, arms crossed, a lowered brow, trailing off followed by a change in topic—these are all indicators that there is likely more to the story. Follow up gently, but pay attention for cues of discomfort, and don’t push too hard.  Again, most people just want someone to listen. You don’t always have to respond. A simple smile or touch can speak volumes.

About Lofton: Founded in 1979, Lofton Services offers clients the best of all worlds. We provide the responsive, personal service and flexibility of a small local firm while having the technology, resources, and infrastructure to deliver the benefits of the biggest players in our industry. Lofton Staffing can deliver the right people, with the right skills, right when you need them. Celebrating 40 years in staffing excellence! Contact us today

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