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“Who speaks, sows; Who listens, reaps.” Argentine Proverb

Among the highest-ranking traits people seek in others when qualifying long-lasting relationships is their ability to listen.  When you think about the importance of this characteristic on our personal relationships, it only seems natural that this quality transcends in significance to the workplace.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to ensure career sustainability is to develop better listening skills.   The ability to listen comes naturally to some and challenging to others.  Either way the fact remains that learning to effectively listen in the workplace inspires loyalty and demonstrates respect.

By becoming a better listener, you will improve your and others’ productivity, as well as your ability to influence, persuade, and negotiate. What’s more, you’ll avoid conflict and misunderstandings – all necessary for workplace success.

Evolving into a better listener can be as easy as following these practices that we discovered from Andy Robinson, Executive Career Coach from Career Success Radio Show.  We’ve included our own perspective following each practice:

  1. Listen for ideas and central themes. Rather than plotting your rebuttal or being distracted by minor details, strive to unveil the speaker’s main point.
  2. Judge content, not delivery. Many people experience anxiety when trying to express concern or new ideas, be patient and focus on what is being said, not how it is said.
  3. Search for areas of interest. Enthusiasm is contagious, so try to get on the same wavelength of the speaker and seek points beneficial to you personally.
  4. Don’t jump to conclusions. Assumptions are hardly ever a good thing and could lead you to missing important info because you’ve tuned out based on prior knowledge.
  5. Be an active listener. Asking your speaker to clarify certain points or follow-up questions is one of the biggest forms of flattery in the business world.  This proves that you were intently listening, therefore validating your speaker and improving your relationship with them.

burnsOne of the greatest examples of the dysfunctional workplace relationship can be found in pop culture in almost any episode of the Simpsons.  The under-performing Homer and the detached tycoon, Mr. Burns evoke that familiar feeling of biting our nails with anticipation as Mr. Burns asks for the hundredth time, “Who the devil is that?  Simpson, eh?”   Being an effective listener ensures you will not be labeled as that stereotypical heartless boss like Mr. Burns, and hopefully it will result in employees far more productive than Homer Simpson!  And it can be as simple as opening your mind along with your ears!