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How can you improve your connections at work by engaging in active listening?

Active listening is an invaluable skill in any workplace, leading to greater understanding, trust, and collaboration among colleagues. This involves fully focusing on the speaker, understanding the speaker’s message, giving feedback, and retaining information. Developing this skill can improve work relationships and lead to a more harmonious and productive work environment. Whether you’re a manager who wants to inspire your team or an employee who wants to improve collaboration, mastering the art of active listening can make a big difference in your professional interactions.

Understand First
To practice active listening, you need to prioritize understanding over reacting. When your colleague is speaking, pay attention to his words, tone of voice, and body language to understand the whole message. Resist the temptation to interrupt him or formulate a response. Instead, let him think things through and show him that you respect his opinion. This approach not only helps you understand his perspective, but it also demonstrates the respect that is the foundation of a good working relationship.

Nonverbal Signals
Your nonverbal communication says a lot about your ability to listen. To communicate your interest, maintain eye contact, nod in agreement, and position your body toward the speaker. Avoid distracting behaviors, such as checking your cell phone or looking at a computer screen, as these may signal disinterest. Being physically present and attentive reassures the speaker that his message is important, fostering a deeper connection and mutual respect.

Feedback Loop
Active listening involves a feedback loop in which you paraphrase or summarize what the speaker says. This step ensures that you understand his message and gives him an opportunity to explain if necessary. Ask open-ended questions to dig deeper into a topic and show genuine interest in the other person’s perspective. This interactive exchange leads to more meaningful conversations and better relationships with your colleagues.

Stay Objective
When actively listening, it’s important to remain objective and non-judgmental. Keep an open mind and don’t let your personal biases or emotions cloud your understanding. Listening objectively allows you to absorb new information and consider alternative perspectives. This objectivity not only improves your understanding, but also makes it easier for your colleagues to speak openly with you, building trust.

Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence goes hand in hand with active listening. You recognize and empathize with the speaker’s emotions, building a deeper connection. This sensitivity helps you ease tensions and resolve conflicts more effectively. Recognizing emotions and responding appropriately helps you create an emotionally safe environment where your colleagues feel heard and valued, which is essential for a positive work culture.

Continuous practice
Active listening is a skill that requires continuous practice. Take advantage of every opportunity to proactively reach out to your colleagues: in meetings, one-on-one conversations, and even informal interactions. Reflect on your interactions and receive feedback on how well you listened. Over time, these efforts will lead to more effective communication, stronger relationships, and a more collaborative work environment.

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