The world has become a very visual place. When we talk about communication, it can often be about how words are written or how things are visually presented. When oral communication is considered, it’s often focused on speaking rather than listening.
But listening well is just as crucial to business success.
Leaders need to listen in order to lead their teams effectively; HR managers need to be able to listen well when they’re recruiting, thinking about benefits in the workplace, or in exit interviews when they’re receiving feedback; sales executives need to be able to listen to what their client’s problem is so that they can potentially solve it.
There are different types of listening. Otto Scharmer, senior lecturer in the MIT Sloan School of Management, refers to factual, empathic and generative listening’; Julie Starr, author of The Coaching Manual, splits listening into four different levels: cosmetic, conversational, deep and active. Each is dependent on the depth of attention, judgment and empathy afforded to your conversation partner.
Active listening is showing genuine interest in a conversation, meaning that the person speaking feels valued and considered. It goes beyond just hearing, and instead, as the name suggests, is more “active”, with the listener able to reflect back the points raised by the speaker and ask questions, empathise or challenge.
Active listening is like a trampoline
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