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How to Listen to Your Employees

Listen to your employees. If your employees feel you’re not listening, they won’t come to you with feedback, suggestions, or even status reports. Employees are a company’s most valuable asset. They’re in the trenches every day, and you need their input to best serve your customers or clients.

Even if you’re not naturally a good listener, you can become one. Listening isn’t a talent that you’re born with, it’s one that you develop:

  • Don’t be distracted. No matter where you are, focus on the person you’re talking to. If you allow yourself to be distracted, you may miss an important point and end up spending more time solving a resulting problem than if you’d simply listened carefully from the start.

  • Don’t interrupt. Don’t complete someone else’s sentences, and don’t jump in the minute he or she takes a first breath. The speaker should feel like he or she can pause without losing the floor.

  • Give nonverbal feedback. Nod your head at appropriate times. Say something here and there. Have an animated expression. Make eye contact.

  • Don’t assume. You may think that you know what someone is about to say — but there’s a good chance you don’t. Keep an open mind and don’t try to second-guess. If you don’t understand what the person is saying, ask questions or paraphrase what you heard and ask for clarification.

  • Think before you respond. Don’t jump in the minute the person stops talking. Really think about what he or she said and choose your words carefully.

Even if you’re listening to someone over the phone — and they can’t see you — don’t check your e-mail or clean out your drawers in your desk.

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