Listening is probably the most important skill that everyone needs to learn and practice. It is both the key to success and the main reason why teams fail to perform. Miscommunication causes hurt feelings, poor performance, and disunity. When people on your team listen to one another you decrease frustration and conflict and increase the overall respect and trust level between team members.
Here are three ways to increase your ability to listen:
Clarify content -Two powerful phrases that everyone needs to learn, "Did I hear you say…?" and "So you're saying…" There's no harm in being wrong. By simply repeating what you think you heard, you are letting the other person know that you are engaged and making a concerted effort to listen, and not just hear them speak to you. There's a big difference between listening and hearing.
Mirror the speaker – You can practice this one while driving. Put talk radio on and as the on-air person is speaking repeat everything he or she says within a second after the word is said. This is hard but valuable work to increase your ability to focus on the one who is speaking. Don't do it when you're with one of your team mates! Otherwise, you're liable to get hit. After a while practicing in your car, however, you will be able to mirror the speaker's words silently in your head. When you can listen closely to every word spoken, you'll understand everything people are telling you.
Stop what you are doing – Stop multitasking and focus on the person speaking to you. An executive I know literally realized that she had a bad habit. When her employees would come to her office, she'd be shuffling papers, finishing an email, or clicking on the web while her employee would be talking to her. When she realized that her multitasking was lowering her overall effectiveness as a listener and, consequently, her credibility as a leader, she made an important change. She told me, "Each time someone would come to my office, I literally would stop everything that I was doing, make eye contact with the person who was talking, and put my chin in my hands to keep my head still so that I could focus." Put stuff down. Stop thinking about all of the other "important" things you need to do, and show your respect to your team member. Dare to be present with the person speaking to you
Bottom line – When members of your team learn to listen closely, you will have a dynamic and unified team.
Mike Weaver, is co-founder and faciliator with The Group Mind, http://thegroupmind.com We help you improve your team's performance and discover creative solutions to vexing problems. Our workshops are engaging, insightful, and create lasting positive impacts with everyone involved. Visit our website at the above link for more information about The Group Mind.