As human beings, we all crave the feeling of being heard and valued. That’s why it’s essential to develop strong communication skills that go beyond just speaking our minds. Active listening is a crucial aspect of effective communication that requires us to be fully present and engaged with others. It’s also why your parents used to tell you “listen more – talk less.” Or “you’ve got two ears and one mouth for a reason.”
By actively listening to others, we can gain a deeper understanding of their perspectives, ideas, and experiences. This understanding can be invaluable in both our personal and professional lives, allowing us to build stronger relationships and achieve success in our careers.
To become better listeners, we must be intentional about being present and avoiding distractions when communicating with others. We should also ask questions to clarify and deepen our understanding of what they’re saying. Practicing empathy is another critical component of active listening, as it allows us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and gain a better understanding of their perspective.
A few years ago I overheard two co-workers discussing diversity in our workplace. They were discussing how good things had gotten and how atrocities of the past were far behind us. I shared with them that both sets of my grandparents graduated from segregated schools. My father started his education in a segregated school – we aren’t as many years removed from ‘less ideal times’ as many would imagine. Especially if diversity, or lack thereof, doesn’t impact you on a day-to-day basis.
I shared with them just a few modern-day diversity issues that I had faced in our workplace. My co-workers listened to my stories intently, showed empathy, and expressed concern about how we could continue to learn and grow collectively. They didn’t simply wait to talk – they actively listened. We can all tell when someone is simply waiting to talk and it doesn’t feel good. It can leave you feeling unappreciated and undervalued.
In a diverse workplace, it’s essential to embrace diversity and actively seek out opportunities to learn from those who are different from us. By doing so, we can broaden our perspectives and gain valuable insights that we wouldn’t have otherwise.
Finally, seeking feedback is an excellent way to learn from others and improve our own performance. When receiving feedback, it’s crucial to practice active listening by fully listening to the feedback, asking questions to clarify, and using it to improve.
Active listening is a powerful tool that can help us build stronger relationships and create a more inclusive and collaborative workplace culture. By making a conscious effort to listen actively, learn from others, and embrace diversity, we can all become better communicators and achieve greater success in our personal and professional lives.
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