As we recently discussed, open communication is vital for success. Poor listening leads to costly miscommunication, the consequences of which can be a recipe for failure: Higher stress levels, decreased productivity, increased employee turnover, lawsuits, low morale, misunderstanding, less creativity, poor customer service, and a loss of respect. When we employ ‘active’ listening, we vastly improve a company’s communication and culture.
What is Active Listening?
One of the most effective ways to have a successful business is to let others do the talking. Listening well, however, isn’t an innate skill; we must develop and practice active listening. When working with a small business consulting firm, you’ll learn the following active listening techniques:
- Encourage participation. When employees or customers know how they can contribute, they’re more willing to open up. To help instill confidence, you must first state the purpose of the conversation, and make it clear that you don’t have all the answers and welcome input.
- Talk less. Reverse the stream of data and let the information flow. Be willing to explore new ideas and understand different points of view.
- Be aware of non-verbal language. Non-verbal communication speaks loudly, so look at the other person directly, don’t mentally prepare what you’ll say next, avoid distractions, and pay attention to the other person’s body language.
- Indicate that you’re listening. Nodding, paraphrasing, and asking clarifying questions show the speaker that you care about the conversation.
Active listening gives you access to new ideas and invaluable insights about how you can grow your business. Anyone can learn the skill of actively listening to properly receive and apply information from others. This skill will undoubtedly help business owners get closer to their goals.