Do You Listen To Understand?

Most conversations at work are not speaker to listener. They end up being speaker to speaker. People talk at each other, reacting immediately to what was said, not listening for understanding to what was said. Because of this the result is poor communication.

This can be very frustrating for employees when they work with someone who lacks “active listening” skills.  They never feel that they are heard and most likely they have not been.

Great managers/employers take the time to develop active listening skills, and even when they are practiced it still is hard not to fall back into the habit of thinking about your response instead of listening for understanding.  When you take the time to gain understanding of what your employees are saying you will be able to respond appropriately.

When someone takes the time to really listen to us it makes us feel respected, cared for, satisfied and understood.  It is a positive experience and the results are better relationships, better quality of work, greater cooperation and less stress.

Three Stages of the Listening Process:

Receiving – We take in the message most notably through hearing and seeing. You listen as much with your sight as you do your sense of hearing. Your eyes help you read the nonverbal cues that play a part in how the speaker expresses his or herself.

Processing – This is done in your mind.  It involves analyzing, evaluating and trying to make sense out of what the speaker said, so you can answer appropriately. Most listening problems happen at this level, such as distraction, attention level or stress. When you are distracted you do not fully get the message, only bits and pieces. Processing requires concentration in order to happen.

Responding – This is when the speaker finds out if the listener understood them because they hear the response. If they were understood, then a connection and a bond occur. If not, you have a process breakdown, which causes stress and frustration on the part of the speaker.


“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood.  The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” ~ Ralph Nichols


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