Posted on 19/03/2013 by Phil Hall
Good communication is about listening and that old adage that you have one mouth, two eyes and two ears. Listening requires using your eyes as well as your ears as body language conveys unspoken communication Listening is a skill that can, with practice, be learned but requires patience and self-discipline. As an employer its important to learn not to jump in but give your employee a chance to talk, and to try and put yourself in their shoes.
Often the people who work for you don’t always want you to ‘fix’ things, sometimes they just want you to listen.
Your body language is just as important as theirs – how you sit, pay attention, engage in eye contact can say much about your attitude and encourage the person you are with to open up. This is especially important when you are dealing with the resolution of conflict or dispute with an employee.
Regardless of who we are we all carry prejudice of one form or another…putting yours to one side is a true test of your ability to get others to open up. Language can often be an imprecise method of communication even with close friends and family. How things are said, not just the words but the feeling and the passion are equally important. As is without making assumptions learning when and how to seek clarification. It all comes back to listening carefully and keeping an open mind.
We are all guilty of passing judgements on others, their appearance, accent, and status within the organisation, up and down the social and hierarchical scale. Remember the sketch by John Clees, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett?
Listening does require patience and sometimes you have to hide your feelings of boredom, exasperation and at times intolerance. Often it’s not what is being said but the time it takes someone to say it. How often have you felt like finishing a sentence, offering an alternative word, showing off your vocabulary to someone who is struggling to explain or convey an idea or recount an event?
Do not give up and do not be tempted to give advice or close off the conversation – the best resolutions are when the employee arrives, trough talking, to find their own answers. For this to happen they have to be convinced that you are listening with kindness.
“In human relations kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths.” It may have been a cynical observation but Graham Greene was a great observer of human nature and we all know that not everything in life is straightforward. And if someone has gone away feeling better because you have taken the time to listen then that has to be a positive result.
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