We all like to think we’re effective communicators, especially in the workplace. But there are behavioural blind spots that can trip up even the savviest communicator.

What we think is helpful may not be effective on the receiving end – that’s why it’s important to check in and assess how we might be communicating with others.

Roadblocks to effective communication

The art of listening

When we think about communicating effectively, it’s easy to focus on how we speak and share our thoughts with one another. But how we listen is just as important. When we avoid the roadblocks above, our colleagues are more likely to feel heard and understood, which creates a more harmonious work environment.

Good listeners demonstrate a myriad of personal skills, such as:

How to be an active listener

Would your workplace be different if active listening was a priority? If you’d like to strengthen your active listening muscles, consider the three stages below. Each offers the chance to rethink how we communicate and can achieve greater harmony in our lives.

  1. Sensing – Active listeners offer their attention, avoid forming opinions, show an interest and try not to interrupt or plan ahead for when they get to speak!
  2. Responding – Active listeners clarify what’s being shared with them by asking questions or using ‘it sounds like you’re saying that’ to make sure they understand.
  3. Validating – Active listeners show empathy, acknowledge feelings and feed back the information they’ve received, to ensure the speaker has been understood.

If you’re keen to be an effective communicator in your workplace, focus on strengthening your own skills and develop an awareness of how you approach others. Why not do as Brene Brown suggests: “Be as passionate about listening as you are about wanting to be heard.”

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