You know it's important to listen, but do you take the time to let your employees and colleagues know you heard what they said? "Letting people know you heard them is a way to let them know you value their viewpoint, you think they're important and that you truly are listening," says Andy Levine, president of Development Counsellors International, a New York City-based firm specializing in economic development and tourism marketing. Levine uses the following techniques to let people know he has heard them:
- Ask questions. Don't just nod your head; ask pertinent questions that will allow them to clarify and expand on their thoughts.
- Confirm that you understand by repeating what you've heard. This may also help them crystallize their point.
- Resist the temptation to make your point while the other person is making theirs. If you're busy thinking about what you're going to say, you're probably not listening.
- Take notes. Writing down what someone says demonstrates that you're listening.
- Follow up. When the conversation requires that you take some sort of action, do so on a timely basis and then provide feedback.
"People need to know that what they have to say is heard and appreciated," says Levine. "Listening is something you do for yourself; hearing is something you do for the other person, and it is extremely worthwhile."
Jacquelyn Lynn is a business writer in Winter Park, Florida.