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How to listen better as a manager

The skill of listening is one that every manager should work on and try to master, as it will improve relationships, make a better work environment, and help everyone feel valued. This leads to higher productivity, fewer mistakes, and a better grasp of expectations. The following are five key actions to take when listening.

1. Start with an open mind.
a. Do not go in with a preconceived idea of what the person is going to say.When we set aside our biases, and preconceptions we open the door of understanding. If someone comes to you and you think you already know what they are going to say, you may not listen to what they are actually asking for.
b. Listen for meanings, feelings, and concerns. We can't solve problems until we learn to what the other person is actually saying and thinking. We have to know where they are coming from to rightly look for solutions. Maybe the solution is simple, but you won't know if you do not get to the heart of the matter.
2. Show interest, warmth, and concern.
a. Use non-verbal cues. Your body language, eye contact, and other behavior needs to reinforce that you care. This means that you should practice making eye contact while they are speaking and give them cues that you are paying attention, such as leaning in.
b. Sit next to them. This allows you to hear what they have to say without distraction, allows you to make eye contact, and read their body language more easily as well.
c. Eliminate distractions. Put them first. Turn off the computer, put your phone on silent, shut the door, or whatever you need to do to make sure you can listen without distraction.
3. Paraphrase content, reflect feelings.
a. Improve communication by paraphrasing and rewording to ensure that what you think is being said is actually being said. There are often multiple meaning to words, paraphrasing and reflecting helps to show that you really understood the meaning and feelings behind what is being said. It also gives the other person a chance to clarify or alter what you thought they said, if you misunderstood them.
4. Clarify
a. Overgeneralization is common, ask additional questions, and help yourself to understand the issues more fully. If you don't, you may think you understand, but you really do not.
b. "Could you give me an example..." is a great way to get more specific. Ask about specific feelings as well.
5. Summarize
a. The content of what they said should be summarized when the conversation ends.
b. Feelings- How they feel should be summarized and clarified.
c. This helps to keep the whole conversation in perspective. It helps you to show you understand and remember what is being said. Summarizing gives you a nice big picture look at the problem so that you can solve it more easily.

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