Episode 21: Active Listening


October 8th, 2019

32 mins 49 secs

Your Hosts

About this Episode

Welcome! We’re talking about active listening in the workplace this week.

What do we mean? In Active Listening, the listener fully listens, contemplates, and responds. The more we can actively listen, the more we can practice and the better we get.

As a manager, active listening empowers employees and supports them in coming up with solutions, which helps employees thrive and builds trust. If instead you aren't really listening, you're either not taking advantage the value of the rest of your team, or you're doing most of the talking and just using the rest of the team to solve problems.

The job of an active listener is to collect information and understand what’s being said by paraphrasing, clarifying, questioning and summarizing.

Some active listenng techniques:

  • Paraphrasing: say what you’re hearing back to make sure you’re hearing it right.
  • Clarifying: “Did you mean this?”
  • Questioning: Asking more about what they’ve said
  • Summarizing: “Did you mean….?”

_So what should you look out for when interviewing? _

Make sure you answer the question. You can clarify to make sure you understand the question, but make sure you know what they want to know about you. When you’re interviewing someone, same rule: make sure that you are asking clear questions and hearing the answer.

Learning to be present for conversations and using active listening is a skill that's valuable in your job. People who are problem solvers and solution-focused are the ones who get promoted vs the complainers who don’t take ownership.

If you are a product manager, you use active listening in product interviews. When you ask really detailed questions, you get to the heart of the person, product or situation to realize what is really going on. The more granular you get, the better you can set someone up for success.

In order to be effective, we need to let others talk while we listen.

Active listening as a parent includes asking specific questions to practice the ask and answer pieces for you and your child.

In a big meeting, if you can’t answer a question, you just say you don’t know, but will get back. And then do it! The know -t-all who is full of hot air doesn’t get respect, but the thoughtful person who gets back to everyone is respected.

Active listening is also about asking questions. The best questions:

  • have an answer that everyone can access
  • don’t make people feel uncomfortable
  • have an explanatory answer
  • get a deep/rich answer that moves the conversation forward.

Ask your teammates, “what do you think?” to help the team share ideas. Going around the room brings out the introverts, and that diverse team perspective will make your project stronger.

Have a topic for meetings, but through active listening, you may go off course a bit. That's ok as long as it’s continuing to explore the main topic.

As much as possible, be present in your conversations and you will get the most out them. Make the person you are talking with feel like they are the only person that’s important in that moment.

How does active listening help in the creative process? You learn what the real challenges/needs/problems are which helps you build a clear framework.

Actively listening helps when interacting with customers because you hear what they need.

What if someone’s not a good communicator? Be prepared to clearly lay out the vision and ask questions to make sure they understand. Ask them to tell you what they are seeing and hearing. You will have to work harder and ask more direct questions.

Active listening on social for work….know your audience, know what you’re trying to say, and ask if your tidbit is going to add to the conversation and be unique.

Tell us how you use active listening, and start practicing asking more questions and see how it impacts you.

If you want to learn more, read Tell Me More by Michael Sherlock.