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Silence is Golden

March 1st, 2016

Picture a difficult conversation, how do you feel? Nervous, anxious, on the back foot? It’s no wonder that we try to fill every possible space in the exchange with words, yet

Silence is very powerful and creates the space people need to really contemplate what they are thinking.

Active listening is a skill that can be learned and one that all leaders and managers should be mindful of. Largely intuitive it is the key to effective relationships.

Greater communication brings greater closeness, everyday life with children illustrates this perhaps more clearly than in the workplace; getting down to their level, listening to what they say and demonstrating to them that you have heard and are processing the information helps build their self esteem.

Active listening is an extension of the Golden rule – just think how you want to be listened to. Practice makes perfect.

Here are some top tips to help with your active listening:

  1. Face the person you are listening to, be attentive;
  2. maintain eye contact;
  3. minimise distractions, – turn off your phone (that’s right!);
  4. focus solely on what the person is saying, clear your mind of anything else;
  5. be positive, empathetic;
  6. maintain the momentum of the conversation by saying things like “really” “what happened then” “what did you do” ;
  7. maintain an open mind until the person has finished.
  8. Don’t think about your response until after the person has finished – how many times have you had conversations hijacked by others interrupting, research shows that, on average, we can hear four times faster than we can talk, so we have the ability to sort ideas as they come in.
  9. Checking in that you understand what the person really means is also very important, by asking checking questions and making statements and also checking how they felt about something by saying something like “it sounds like that was quite frustrating for you”.

As you work on developing your listening skills, you will learn to settle into the silence and use it to better understand all points of view. Ironically, as your listening skills improve, so will your aptitude for conversation.

Our¬†Manager’s Toolkit¬†provides helpful guidance on the most important areas of the skill-set of effective managers.

If you would like to learn more about this and other management skills contact us.

Thanks for reading

Hayley

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