Active listening: Soft skill that makes great leaders


Great leaders are those that have cultivated active listening competency. FILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

Active listening is part of effective communication. If we prudently study why communication flops in most instances we will discover it is because of a lack of the essential soft skill of active listening.

Most relationships hit the titanic iceberg because our egocentric blocks the capacity to listen.

Great leaders are not the ones that talk monstrously and monotonously to their teammates, they are those that have cultivated active listening competency.

These days active listening is so critical that it is treated as a separate competency.

Deep listening as the name suggests is when the listener understands the message from the recipient in a holistic manner.

It is quite emphatic in the sense you get into the shoes of the person talking so that you gain their standpoint.

This means removing the communication noise so that speaker is not judged by any preconceived notions. It is establishing a deeper connection.

It is a trust-building form of communication. Deep listening can be used in resolving deep-seated problems, generating beneficial synergies and also inspire feedback.

We can achieve deep listening by avoiding incessant interruptions. However, ask well-aimed questions for purpose clarity.

We ought to maintain eye contact. This means we eliminate or minimise distractions that can impair the attraction of valuable outcomes.

Critical listening is more analytical as the concept denotes. Here we listen while evaluating and synthesising. It has a more logical and evidence orientation.

Selective listening is filter or biased listening. There is also partial listening. In the end, of course, these selective listening subsets lead to communication.

One can listen selectively because they are distracted or biased. Selective listening has many variations.

Therapeutic listening is the kind that is used by counsellors and therapists. It is the listening that is aimed at understanding deep psychological challenges. Therapeutic listening implies care and empathy.

It is very much client-centred communication. This form of listening helps a person generate solutions to deeply personal issues.

What are the best strategies for boosting active listening? The easiest way of enhancing effective communication through active listening is by paying attention.

If the listener is managing very many activities it means that some aspects of the conversation will be missed. Which portends danger to communication excellence.

According to body language researcher Albert Mehrabian, when we communicate 55 percent is body language, then 38 percent is vocal, and a paltry seven percent is words.

This means that when listening we should tune and adapt favourable body language. We have to use our postures to indicate authentic interest.

The icing on the cake about active listening is that countless benefits are gained. Good listening skills and attitudes promote collaboration, courtesy, and respect.

Mr Magoma is a HR specialist and trainer | [email protected]

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