Nurture a Culture of Listening
If you feel heard, you feel validated. This is a universal rule.
Now imagine what it feels like when you haven’t been heard. It might have been a feeling you’ve experienced in your work or personal life recently. Maybe you haven’t felt it for a while––lucky you. Well it stinks. Not only do you feel a bit worthless, but you can experience a sudden loss of energy. You might start questioning your position in the workplace or in the relationship. And, in the worst case, your initial enthusiasm can turn to anger pretty suddenly.
Now imagine how your employees feel if they aren’t being heard. Imagine the loss of productivity, drive, and good thinking your workplace will suffer if every part of your team was feeling this unlistened-to pinch even once a month. It could be an epidemic.
If this is happening in your team––anywhere down the line, not blaming you––then something needs to change. It’s time to readjust your culture. It’s time to create a listening culture.
If you can harvest a good culture around listening from the top––it starts here always–– you can see a trickle-down effect activated across the whole company that will ultimately reach your clients or customers. And clients that feel heard, feel valued.
Some tips to help grow a listening culture:
Hello, yes, it’s me again, your local feedback pusher! Seriously though, feedback is the best way to permeate listening into your culture. Basically, by offering your team a chance to give you feedback, you’re basically saying, “I am ready to listen.” It’s a hot introduction. Giving someone a stage to talk is the best way to elevate their self-worth. And the benefits from employees that feel valued is invaluable!
Be an active listener.
No that doesn’t mean do star jumps while your team are trying to communicate something to you. It means, make listening an active exercise. Immerse yourself in it. Show the speaker you’re invested. Some elements to active listening are:
- Look at the speaker directly.
- Don’t be mentally distracted. Put aside your own thoughts.
- Don't listen to respond! Listen wholly.
- Don’t be physically distracted. Put your phone away, tune from to your external environment.
Encourage listening among the team.
Now, this isn’t all about you. To create a good listening culture, everyone should be on board. A good time to address this is in meetings. Allow everyone a chance for thoughtful responses. Don’t cut people off. Solicit feedback from team members that may not usually pipe up and show that you’re actively listening to their response so others can take note. Avoid the desire to micro-manage a discussion. Rather allow the discussion to unfold organically only speaking up if you feel as though someone has not been heard. Gently remind the team to be more active in their listening.
These are all pretty standard listening techniques that if practiced regularly, will rub off and can have amazing effects across the whole team. (It may even help at home too!)
Written by HR Gurus Managing Partner, Jessy Warn
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