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  • mmayer178

Active listening means as the name suggests, actively listening. That is fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively hearing the message of the speaker. Active listening involves listening with all the senses. These include our non-verbals like our posture, our facial expressions, and our eye contact. This also involves eliminating distractions so that we can focus on the message.

Listening is not something that just happens (that’s hearing), listening is an active process in which a conscious decision is made to listen and understand the message of the speaker. Listeners should remain neutral and non-judgmental, this means trying not to take sides or form opinions, especially early in conversations. Active listening is also about patience. Listeners should not be tempted to jump in with questions or comments every time there is a few seconds of silence. Active listening involves giving the other person time to explore their thoughts and feelings, they should, therefore, be given adequate time for that.

So, we have established the value of improving listening to improve communications. Let’s look at some practical ways we can demonstrate that we are listening and understanding:


Step 1: Face the speaker and maintain eye contact.

Talking to someone while they scan the room, study a computer screen, or gaze out the window is like trying to hit a moving target. How much of the person's divided attention you are actually getting? Fifty percent? Five percent? If the person were your child you might demand, "Look at me when I'm talking to you," but that's not the sort of thing we say to a lover, friend, or colleague.

Step 2: Be attentive, but relaxed.

Now that you've made eye contact, relax. You don't have to stare fixedly at the other person. You can look away now and then and carry on like a normal person. The important thing is to be attentive.

Step 3: Keep an open mind.

Listen without judging the other person or mentally criticizing the things she tells you. If what she says alarms you, go ahead and feel alarmed, but don't say to yourself, "Well, that was a stupid move." As soon as you indulge in judgmental bemusements, you've compromised your effectiveness as a listener.

Step 4: Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying.

Allow your mind to create a mental model of the information being communicated. Whether a literal picture or an arrangement of abstract concepts, your brain will do the necessary work if you stay focused, with your senses fully alert. When listening for long stretches, concentrate on, and remember, keywords and phrases.

Step 5: Don't interrupt and don't impose your "solutions."

Children used to be taught that it was rude to interrupt. I'm not sure that message is getting across anymore. Certainly, the opposite is being modeled on the majority of talk shows and reality programs, where loud, aggressive, in-your-face behavior is condoned, if not encouraged.

Now make the commitment. Commit to becoming an active listener. Practice the skills and watch relationships be transformed.


  • mmayer178

This is the first of a two-part series on improving communications at MidSouth. Communication, more specifically listening, is the third of our eight pillars of cultural excellence. In Habit 5 of his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey said “Seek First to Understand then to be Understood”. He believed that this habit lay at the center of effective communication. If you notice, this habit is about seeking understanding, rather than being heard. This is so difficult for most of us to do. However, when we become active listeners, we can establish ourselves as someone people feel comfortable coming to with issues. When they do come, this greatly enhances our opportunities to impact those around us.

It is easy to recognize the signs of poor listening/communication in the workplace. Where there are poor communications there is often low morale, low levels of collaboration, more conflict and increased levels of stress. One of the leading causes of failed relationships, personal or professional, is one party not feeling understood by the other. In a study conducted by Forbes magazine, 74% of employees report they are more effective in their job when they feel heard. However, 86% of the employees surveyed did not feel they were listened to or understood at work.

People long to be listened to. When people are listened to they feel valued. When employees feel valued, they remain engaged and tend to be higher performing, productive and happier employees. So why is this such an issue? Why do we fail to do something that we know would have a such positive impact? In this article I want to explore a few common barriers to effective listening:

  1. Dissatisfaction or Disinterest With One’s Job If you are unhappy or have lost interest in your job, you are far less likely to communicate effectively – both on the giving and receiving ends.

  2. Failure to Listen to Others Active listening is an important aspect of effective communication. You cannot engage with someone if you are not listening to them because you will tend to make assumptions about their needs based on your perceptions versus reality.

  3. Lack of Transparency & Trust It is extremely difficult to communicate anything when there is a lack of transparency and trust. For example, if your staff believes you are holding something back, they will be anxious, some will speculate, and as a result, it will be more difficult for them to process any attempt you make to communicate with them.

  4. Communication Styles (when they differ) Everyone has their own communication style. Some people are very direct while others prefer a more indirect approach. Occasionally, one person is so entrenched in their way of communicating, that they find it difficult to communicate with others who rely on a different style.

  5. Conflicts in the Workplace Conflict can happen for a variety of reasons and when it does, it becomes a barrier to effective communication. The nature of the conflict is not necessarily important, what is important is working to resolve the conflict. When conflict is not eradicated, it grows and then people begin to take sides, which further impedes effective communication.

I hope this helps you identify a few things that you can eliminate to become a more effective listener/communicator. Next week we will deep dive into the concept of ACTIVE LISTENING and

Active listening means as the name suggests, actively listening. That is fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively hearing the message of the speaker. Active listening involves listening with all the senses. These include our non-verbals like our posture, our facial expressions, and our eye contact. This also involves eliminating distractions so that we can focus on the message.

Listening is not something that just happens (that’s hearing), listening is an active process in which a conscious decision is made to listen and understand the message of the speaker. Listeners should remain neutral and non-judgmental, this means trying not to take sides or form opinions, especially early in conversations. Active listening is also about patience. Listeners should not be tempted to jump in with questions or comments every time there is a few seconds of silence. Active listening involves giving the other person time to explore their thoughts and feelings, they should, therefore, be given adequate time for that.

So we have established the value of improving listening to improve communications.

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  • mmayer178

As we continue to examine the eight Pillars of Culture of Mid South Rehab, we are ready to look at TRUST. I don’t think it is a revelation that trust is a very fragile thing. It is hard to develop and even harder to maintain. Our standards are high. It doesn’t take much for someone to break a trust with us and it is very difficult to repair. According to Sabrina Romanoff Ph.D., “Trust is the foundation of relationships because it allows you to be vulnerable and open up to the person without having to defensively protect yourself.” When we are comfortable with being vulnerable, we are comfortable enough to be ourselves, to think and act outside of the box, and take risks. This creates a positive, productive and comfortable workplace.

Trust at work, just as in a personal relationship, must go both ways. In our therapeutic world, patients must trust us to be caring and competent so they will seek out our services. We must trust them to keep appointments and complete assigned tasks for therapy to be beneficial.

For our company to be most effective, our employers must trust team members and team members must trust leadership. Seems like trust is an essential part in everything we do.

So, with trust being so important, why is it so hard to build and maintain? It’s likely that each of us has had trusts broken over time. We have all been hurt or disappointed by someone. The more of those experiences we have had, the more sensitive we have become to avoid being hurt again. We tend to close ourselves off more and more and let fewer people in. That makes relationships, personal or professional, more difficult to form. Once we are hurt by someone it makes it very difficult for that trust to be restored. (I hope you analyze where your trust levels are and how that impacts your relationships – that is essential to self-awareness)

In the workplace, we are around others with similar experiences. We begin to share stories of broken trust and often bond from that. From there we can quickly form cultures of distrust, which has a tremendous impact on office culture and employee engagement. It is amazing how quickly a negative workplace can develop. So how can we grow a culture of trust on our team? I have two short, but difficult steps we can follow:

  1. Make and keep promises- this is a proactive step we can take, that we have complete control over.

  2. Do what you say you’re going to do

  3. Be careful what you say yes to. It is ok to say “NO”

  4. Control what you can control – Manage you. Model appropriate thinking and behavior and then gradually expand that influence throughout your team. Remember, racehorses wear blinders for a reason. It eliminates distractions and keeps them focused on the finish line. We could learn a lot from a few old racehorses.

As I have said before if we want to create a more trusting work environment, be more trustworthy. Model the behavior we are looking for in others.

This week be the change you are looking for in others,

Dan

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