The necessity of good listening skills to your managerial performance is often underrated, but understanding their importance and adopting the following simple, yet imperative, strategies will help you display good listening skills and improve your overall performance.
• Don't confuse "hearing" with "listening."
This is one of the most common errors made by many people, staff and management alike. Hearing is a simple human function while listening is a skill, like hitting a baseball, playing a musical instrument, learning accounting, etc. Listening skills can improve by learning proper techniques and then practice, practice and practice.
• Focus and concentrate your attention.
Concentrate on the spoken words, their meanings and any obvious body language displayed by the speaker. At all costs, refrain from letting your focus drift to your next meeting, phone calls that must be made, stopping to pick up bread and milk after work, or any other subject other than closely listening to the speaker.
• Display your understanding.
Just as you can only be sure your employees understand by getting their feedback, you should learn how to express your understanding of other speakers. Learn some methods with which you are comfortable to do this. Sometimes a simple nodding of your head, smiling, or exhibiting active body language can communicate your comprehension of the spoken words.
• Learn "empathetic" listening techniques.
In business and personal situations, sympathy is important, but empathy is critical. Sympathy displays regret, remorse or sorrow, but empathy illustrates understanding. Communicating that you understand the position and feelings of the speaker is a listening skill that should win you newfound respect and admiration from your peers, staff and superiors.