Your EAP Supervisor Newsletter has answers to the following questions to enhance your listening skills.
Think about the people in your life you consider to be good listeners. They probably pay attention to what you have to say and show interest by the ways they respond. Sometimes they may help you solve problems. Chances are, they make you feel good when you talk to them. Are you a good listener? Ask yourself these questions. Do you create a safe and welcoming environment for listening?
When somebody wants to tell you something, do you put away distractions like phones and other devices?
Do you clear your mind of other thoughts so you can pay attention to what the other person has to say? If it’s not a good time or the place isn’t right, do you suggest a better time and place, then follow through to make sure the conversation happens? A good listener signals their attention by eliminating distractions, including distracting thoughts, and focusing on the other person. These signals let the other person know that it’s safe to talk and that you are ready to listen. A good listener also recognizes when a moment or place isn’t right for attentive listening and arranges to talk at another time or in a different place.
Do you show that you’re listening?
As another person talks to you, do you show that you’re listening by turning your body toward them and making eye contact? Do you give signs that you’re paying attention, such as smiles, concerned expressions, nods, or leaning in? Do you say words or make sounds of encouragement, such as “I see,” “Really?” “Ooh,” or “Mm hum”? Do you adopt an open body posture (without crossing your arms in front of you, for example)? A good listener shows that they are listening by their body movements, facial expressions, and verbal responses. These need to be authentic indications of interest, not forced or faked, or they send the opposite message: that you don’t really care.
Do you respond in ways that show you’re listening and trying to understand?
Do you ask questions to clarify what the other person is saying and encourage them to tell you more? Do you repeat back or summarize key parts of what the other person has told you, in your own words, to make sure you’ve understood?
Listening isn’t a passive act. It’s an interaction with another person. A good listener does some talking, not with the intent to dominate the conversation but instead to draw the other person out, understand what they are saying, and learn what they have to share.
Do you listen without interrupting or changing the focus of the conversation?
Do you let the other person complete their thoughts, even when there are stretches of silence as they weigh what they want to say next? Do you hold back from jumping in or interrupting while the other person is talking? Do you help keep the focus of the conversation on what the other person has brought up? A good listener is patient and gives the other person time to complete their thoughts. A good listener doesn’t interrupt, finish the other person’s sentences for them, or take the conversation in another direction by steering it toward their own concerns.
No one is a good listener in all ways and all situations. However, you can become a better listener—more often and when it really matters—by considering and practicing these elements of the skill of listening.
Read more about this topic and other topics regarding employee issues and making EAP referrals in your EAP Supervisor Enhancement Newsletter for February 2023.
Deer Oaks Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a free service to UHD benefits-eligible employees and their dependents and household members. Services provided by the EAP are confidential. For EAP contact information, visit Employee Assistance Program on UHD-ESO’s website.
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