Active listening skills are important to utilize in your everyday life, in the workplace and at home. Passively listening while multi-tasking several things can give the impression that you are not paying attention, and could cause people to avoid you or maybe even resent you.
Recently I met a senior manager at a global financial company who has had the benefit of over 20 years of the best sales and management training. He knew that we all need a reminder once in a while of the simple communication strategies that work best. He agreed that active listening skills are very valuable and can make the difference between a sale and a loss. Also, he mentioned that we do not want our colleagues to think that we are not listening, or do not care about their problems. Active listening can really help. Here is a simple formula to help you – REO.
R – Reflect back or ‘paraphrase’ their main ideas, content, key words and ideas. You need not use the exact same phrase or sentences; rather just serve back the message that you got their main points. The beauty of this is that it immediately gives an opportunity to clear up any miscommunication right at the beginning of the conversation, as opposed to getting halfway through only then to realize you weren’t following the whole picture, and you have to start again from the top.
E – Empathy is a showing of a shared feeling and understanding of the emotional impact of the speaker’s situation. Do not judge, and please hold your own opinion. If you need to illustrate that you understand, briefly mention the basics of your story. This is not the time to take over the conversation. Your job is to listen actively and pay attention to their emotional state and body language. This is why you must be making eye-contact to be a good listener!
O – Open-ended questions can be asked to get more information, background, details that will help you and them discover a solution to the problem. We cannot ask a question that begs a Yes or No answer. We must ask questions that have them talking freely, in their own words. For example we should not ask “Are you going to request a transfer?” but rather ask “What are your options on changing your current situation?”
Also, please remember to be careful with starting your questions with the word ‘Why’. It usually sounds like you are challenging or criticizing the person. For example, “Why are you taking vacation now?” could be changed to “What are the reasons of taking your vacation now, as opposed to next month when things have slowed down here?”
I hope you find R-E-O a useful communication tool. As always feel free to contact me should you have any questions or comments about posts, ebooks, workshops, or personal coaching.