The key to listening

How can you be an effective communicator if you don’t listen?!

We all know that an important aspect to being an effective manager is to communicate well with each employee.

An important part of communication is the ability to listen.  Not to you, but to them!

In my management classes, we do a variety of listening exercises.

One activity is a version of the telephone game, where you are in a rush and you need to pass on information.  Like when we were children, the original message is almost completely changed at the end.

Another activity is to follow a story while doing a physical activity.  At the end of the story, there is a quiz.  Even though every knows there is a quiz, most people don’t to do well because the activity was confusing and took away focus.

The third activity is done in groups of three.  There is a talker, a listener and observer.  The listeners job is to listen – not take notes and not to ask questions.  They will need to repeat back what they heard at the end of two minutes.

Unlike in the other two activities, usually participants can repeat back most of the story.


Because they focused.

The key to listening is to simply focus on what the talker is saying.

Don’t check email, don’t do other activities that take concentration, just focus.

I know this is easier said than done, especially if we’re tired, hungry, pressed for time, or have a negative opinion about the person who is talking and/or what they’re talking about.

But when we focus on what someone is saying:

  • We will retain more of what they said
  • Our questions can use their words to show understanding
  • They feel they are being heard.

Imagine getting a comment from an employee that was:  You make others feel like they are being heard and are important.

What are leadership and management quality to have!

And you can get those kind of comments.

All you need to do is listen!

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