Drawing the line in line management

We often talk about the importance of training line managers in conflict resolution and mediation skills as they are the best ‘workplace mediators’ an organisation has. Line managers are close to the action and can deal with issues at work quickly and informally.

Read our recent article in Training Zone which features UCLH and the conflict management programme we have been running at the Trust for senior managers.

And this week, we also feature guest blogger, Jackie Edwards, who shares her 5 tips for managers to become better listeners.

7 Barriers Of Effective Listening & How To Overcome Them

For a manager, effective listening is a big chunk of the job. Managers act as a bridge between their employees and their organisation and therefore need to be excellent communicators. This means being able to listen just as well as speaking to encourage a motivated and productive work environment. However, effective listening at work can take time and practice, and we don’t always get it right. Here are some of the most common barriers and how every manager can overcome them:

#1: Going off on a tangent or talking excessively

Talking more than necessary will lead to people hesitating to interact with you as they grow bored. Talking excessively may also result in people feeling aggression from you. You can get past this by thinking before you speak and not worrying about getting all the information out quickly. Refrain from indulging in talking for the sake of talking; know the point you are trying to make and get there in a clear and concise manner.

#2: Using too many electronic props

As efficient as it might seem, laptops, tablets, and cellphones are all considered distractions when a person is trying to have an engaging conversation. To become a more effective at communication, give your colleague your full attention by omitting any devices and gimmicks.

#3: Listening to respond, rather than to listen

When listening to someone talk, most people listen to respond rather than to listen. After the speaker has finished talking, take a moment to process their words before rushing to speak and don’t hesitate to ask clarifying questions. If you want to inspire your team, take the time to understand exactly what they are saying so you can better address their needs.

#4: Misinterpreting reactions and selective hearing

A common mistake that a manager might make is misunderstanding a person’s reaction due to selective hearing. If it takes a person a while to reach their point, it might be easy for the listener to wander off and start thinking about other things. This can be damaging because the listener will only hear bits and pieces, making it difficult to respond efficiently. Ask your employee questions to expand and clarify, and then solve the problem.

#5: Ignoring obvious signs and cues

This is another reason why it’s important to listen with your full attention. Active listening means being able to concentrate on nonverbal cues such as volume, tone, pace and facial expressions. A person’s body language can sometimes say more than their words, so it is important to be able to pick up on these things. A good manager should focus on what is being said without allowing distractions to disrupt the process. Take the time to understand what your employees are communicating with you for a more productive and healthy workplace.


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