No matter which stakeholder or project team member you’re working with as a business analyst, you need to understand active listening in order to be a great communicator. Communicating is vital to a business analyst’s success, but sometimes people forget that listening is just as important as — or maybe more important than — talking.
Active listening refers to the level of engagement you have with your communication partner. It involves not only listening but also performing actions that assure your partner that you’re truly engaged in listening. Here are some great active listening tips:
Listen to the speaker’s entire message. In today’s time-is-money environment, you may be tempted to interrupt the speaker because you “know” what he’s going to say. But if you don’t hear the entire thought, you may miss something important.
Ask questions to understand what the other person says. Open-ended questions are great for eliciting, but when you need to actively listen and confirm, you should ask a closed question that requires only a yes or no answer.
Paraphrase to confirm what you heard. When you paraphrase, use phrases such as “So to let me understand what you’re saying . . . .” or “If I heard you correctly . . . .”