Managers Can Improve Their Listening Skills


Managers are in a demanding position in a lot of ways; their daily interaction with employees has to be efficient, friendly, and professional at the same time. They have a unique responsibility to communicate coherently and assign various tasks without coming off as too bossy, but there is one aspect to their communication skills that many managers overlook. It’s called listening.

In order for a manager to excel in his/her position, he must hone his listening skills and tune in to fully grasp the various messages employees have to bring forth. Here’s how to do it.

Show respect by turning off your electronic gadgets

Laptops, tablets, phones and other devices used for communication are extremely useful to pass on information within seconds. However, as efficient as these tools are, there is one downside to them; in the wrong context, they can actually stymie a verbal exchange and prevent the listener (in this case a manager) from picking up on crucial details relevant to the overall message. That is why ignoring emails and notifications while listening to someone speak is an important factor, which every manager should put into practice. Furthermore, showing the employees that they have your full attention also portrays that you place more value on them as opposed to the new Facebook notification.  

Remain calm

Certain days in a manager’s life are just too long and overwhelming. With a plethora of responsibilities and endless complaints, one can easily lose their calm and patience. However, this is not what a great manager would do. A great manager would stop, take a deep breath (even two or three if needed), and patiently listen until the speaker is done. Active patient listening enables you to receive essential bits and pieces that make up the overall message, and it also helps you filter irrelevant details that can be derailing. Moreover, practicing patience also means not interrupting the speaker, but asking follow-up questions after they are done speaking.

Don’t allow room for misunderstandings

Misunderstandings are very akin to traps that often cause unintentional chaos in the workplace. They can either stem from inadequate verbal skills or the listener’s negligence to actually pay attention and listen. That is why a manager should always keep in mind to leave room for a short summarization of the message, as well as clarification that both the listener and the speaker can benefit from. If the listener fails to successfully grasp the message, he is basically allowing misunderstandings to multiply which can have deleterious effects on the business. Paying attention and picking up on important details, along with asking follow-up questions is a great way to avoid such unfavorable situations.

Multitasking, stress, and anxiety are an inconvenient and undeniable part of a manager’s role. Unfortunately, this often means that they are unable to give a listening ear to their employees. However, being mindful of this powerful and useful skill, and putting it to good use can bear fruitful results and improve work as well as personal relations. 

By Guest Blogger Jackie Edwards