Active listening will turn your project team on its ear

Editor’s note: After a team meeting about active listening, our summer intern was inspired to research and write a post on the topic. We’re pleased to share it here on our blog! Allison is a communications major at High Point University.

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At DelCor, we know listening skills are crucial and have a profound impact on the quality of work we deliver. Listening is central to daily life—we listen for enjoyment, understanding, and acquiring new information. Considering all the listening we do every day, you might be surprised to learn that most people don’t have effective listening skills. Research shows that we only remember 25-50% of what we hear—meaning you could be missing out on important information.

Get to know the benefits of listening skills

Let’s start from this indisputable point: you need good listening skills to do your job successfully. These skills are even more critical in associations that have team members who work remotely some or all of the time (not to mention geographically-dispersed members).

Listening skills have a profound impact on your abilities, effectiveness, and relationships. Good listening skills improve your productivity and your ability to influence and elicit ideas from others, and they help you avoid misunderstandings.

Improve your listening skills with active listening

Active listening requires more than simply hearing what someone is saying. It involves using more of your senses than listening—for example, we all know that body language can convey a lot without saying a word! With active listening, you greatly improve the likelihood you will understand the speaker’s message and retain important information. Active listening also lets the other person know you are listening to them and value what they have to say.

It takes practice to break bad habits and develop good listening skills, but by training yourself to develop better listening skills, you can improve your effectiveness and influence at work (not to mention other areas of your life). Research shows that these active listening tips can help you be a better listener:

  • Give the speaker your undivided attention.
  • Don’t start mentally preparing your response while the speaker is talking.
  • Use verbal and nonverbal messages, such as body language, to show the speaker that you are listening—nod, use facial expressions, make eye contact, and make sure your posture is inviting.
  • Do not interrupt the speaker and don’t jump in at every pause! Allow for some silences so that you and the speaker can process and think about what is being said.
  • Paraphrase what the speaker has said to confirm or clarify what you heard.
  • Ask relevant questions.
  • Avoid forming arguments and opinions early in a conversation. Remain neutral, don’t be judgmental, and offer opinions respectfully.

Reach your potential with active listening

Adopting effective listening skills will help you reach your full potential and ensure a project is completed to meet expectations or a member is provided the best service possible. For example, while working with remote staff on a project, check in frequently with one another to ensure you are both working toward the same vision of how the project should turn out. Practicing proper listening kills is extremely important when working with a team to ensure every member knows exactly what their role is and how they can contribute to the best of their abilities.

When you listen to what everyone has to say and take the time to understand their opinions and points of view, you create an environment where everyone feels respected and valued. Good listeners are more efficient and effective leaders and coworkers. Take the time to reflect on your listening skills and how you can improve them—the benefits will be well worth it.

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