Active Listening Mastery: 5 Tips to Enhance Workplace Communication
Updated: Mar 26
During conversations, some gestures and comments can make it obvious to the speaker that you are listening and interested in the topic. On the contrary, some false gestures can send the wrong message to the speaker.
Here are some points you should keep in mind when having a conversation with your employees:
1. Looking directly at them – while talking, looking directly at your employees indicates that you are taking an interest.
This gesture speaks for itself. Some managers look bossy when talking to employees and pose like they are busy writing and typing something very important. This attitude straightaway reflects that you are inefficient and give off a bad vibe to the employees. It would be best to put everything aside for a moment, listen to them with interest, and pass the comments in between to show that you understand the issue.
Suppose the time is not suitable for a discussion or you are genuinely too busy to concentrate. In that case, it's better to reschedule and pend the conversation until you have sufficient time to discuss in a relaxed manner.
While conversing with them, don't send emails, look through files, fidget with your phone or do anything else that may give off the feeling that you are not interested. They may not say anything about this, but they will probably think you are an unfit manager.
2. Invite them to talk more – practically, as a manager, there are many conversations that you might not want to be a part of.
Someone might like to discuss animal cruelty or global warming while you are going over a crucial report, and there's always going to be that one employee who would come to you for small talk for the nth time.
On such occasions, you may politely explain to them that you can't engage in such a conversation at the moment. However, for almost every work-related, genuine discussion your employees bring up, you need to encourage them to talk – this encouragement is a vital part of your responsibilities.
The fact is that, as a manager, your time is precious, and your attention is limited. This will be especially phenomenal if your employee shares and brings an innovative idea or a unique point of view on the issue.
They will be more confident about your interest in their thoughts. They will also be more willing to bring up their ideas or point of view on other issues on future occasions. Some of the ideas may be impractical; however, showing enthusiasm to hear them can offer a sense of achievement to the employee.
Nonetheless, this is precisely why entertaining and engaging with them on the issues within your limited time will mean a lot to them.
3. Use engaging comments – during verbal and written communication, using the right words is essential.
Adequately controlled statements that can be used to encourage employee engagement should be used frequently during conversations. When you punctuate your communication with specific trigger comments, you let the speaker know that you are interested in what they have to say.
These trigger comments can include phrases like:
"Tell me more about that,"
"Throw more light on that,"
"That's an interesting point of view".
These kinds of acknowledgements will give more confidence to the speaker that their thought process is getting across. Also, such statements can ease the employee when getting into a seemingly complex conversation.
4. Be mindful of your gestures – being the boss does not mean that you have a free pass to say and do whatever you want to do during a conversation with your employee.
Your body language sends powerful messages through your gestures. Sometimes, you could be shaking your head unconsciously during a conversation due to other thoughts in your head.
This can easily be interpreted as a sign of disapproval, even when you agree with the other party. On the other hand, occasionally nodding during a conversation represents approval. It could encourage the other party to continue with the conversation.
5. Listen more than you speak – as a manager, you'll have to do much talking as part of the job.
However, always listen twice more than you talk when communicating. Many managers have developed the habit of speaking more during the discussion – it's like they like to hear the sound of their voice.
Some justify talking more by giving the excuse that they're giving details on the subject, and some are just straight-up Talking Toms. It is essential in effective communication to remember that communication is not about yourself.
It's more about the other party whom you are trying to educate about something. So, when you're sending any form of information across, always listen as well.
You need to remember that your body language is not just your words, but also your body language says a lot about where your attention is. Your employees feel like their voice is heard when you use the above pointers while communicating with them.
You should pay close attention to your words and your gestures as well. You should also keep in your mind that you don't necessarily have to do all the talking just because you're the manager in the conversation. Sometimes, you need to take a step back and let the employee do most of the talking while actively listening to what they are trying to convey.