In the bustling modern workplace, where emails flood in and meetings stack up, an essential skill often gets overlooked – active listening. Amidst the rush to meet deadlines and navigate projects, the true essence of meaningful communication can sometimes fade. Yet, in a workplace where collaboration and connection are paramount, the significance of active listening shines ever brighter. It plays a crucial role in effective teamwork and, ultimately, contributes to a thriving and harmonious work environment.  

What is Active Listening? 

Active listening isn’t just about nodding along as someone speaks, it’s a dynamic process that involves truly engaging with the speaker’s words, tone, and emotions. This means giving your full attention to the person, whether it’s an employee sharing their concerns or a colleague discussing a project idea. Active listening is about being present in the moment and showing genuine interest in what’s being said. 

The Importance of Active Listening in the Workplace 

Reducing Stress and Enhancing Mental Health: 

Research indicates that active-empathetic listening by those in leadership or supervisory roles enhances supportive working conditions and is a key predictor of employees’ wellbeing. Employees who had a supervisor with a higher active-empathetic listening score were found to experience higher job control, decreased depression, stress, anxiety and were less fatigued.  

Building Trust and Connection: 

Active listening is the also the bridge that connects leaders and managers with their employees on a deeper level. When you actively listen, you convey empathy and openness, which in turn builds trust. Employees who trust their leaders are more likely to seek assistance when facing challenges, whether they’re related to work stress, interpersonal conflicts, or personal issues. 

By integrating active listening into your workplace from the top-down, you can create a more supportive and nurturing work environment. 

Tips for Cultivating Active Listening in the Workplace: 

1. Put Away Distractions: 

    When engaging in a conversation, ensure your devices are put away, and your focus is solely on the speaker. This not only sends a message of respect but also allows you to pick up on nonverbal cues that convey additional information. 

    2. Practice Reflective Responses: 

    Responding with statements like “It sounds like…” or “I understand that…” demonstrates that you’re not only hearing the words but also trying to understand the underlying emotions. This also encourages the speaker to delve deeper into their thoughts and feelings. 

    3. Maintain Eye Contact and Open Body Language: 

    Nonverbal cues speak volumes. Maintaining eye contact and open body language shows that you’re engaged and approachable. This can help the speaker feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns. 

    4. Ask Open-ended Questions: 

    Encourage the speaker to elaborate by asking open-ended questions such as “Can you tell me more about that?” or “What are your thoughts on…?” These questions promote meaningful discussions and show your genuine interest. 

    Incorporating Active Listening into Your Corporate Wellbeing Strategy: 

    1. Training and Workshops: 

    Education is key when it comes to creating a workplace that values active listening. Offer training sessions and workshops that focus on active listening skills for all levels of your organisation. These sessions can provide practical insights and strategies for employees to enhance their communication skills.  

    Here at Better Being, we run a variety of workshops that focus on the importance of active listening in the workplace. Click here to speak to one of our team members to find out more!  

    2. Feedback Channels: 

    Create structured channels for employees to share their thoughts, suggestions, and concerns. This could be through regular feedback surveys, suggestion boxes, or designated HR open-door hours. 

    3. Lead by Example: 

    Encourage leadership in your organisation to practice active listening. When employees see their leaders and managers actively engaging and empathising, they’re more likely to reciprocate these behaviours.