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The Power of Active Listening: How Soft Skills Training Can Improve Communication

  • By Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP
  • April 26, 2023

Active Listening Skills

Communication is critical for success in the workplace. Whether between an employee and their team or with external stakeholders, having clear conversations and ensuring everyone’s needs have been met is essential for maintaining a healthy organization. This article will explore how soft skills like active listening can help improve internal and external communication efforts—ultimately leading to better overall organizational results.

What Is Active Listening?

Active listening is a powerful communication tool for better personal and professional relationships. It means giving your full attention to the speaker and truly trying to comprehend their message. It’s not just about hearing their words but also picking up on their body language, tone, and word choice.

Some examples of active listening include maintaining eye contact, nodding to show understanding, asking clarifying questions, and summarizing what the other person said to ensure mutual understanding. By mastering the art of active listening, individuals can communicate more effectively and foster deeper connections.

The Difference Between Active and Passive Listening

When it comes to communication, listening is just as important as speaking. However, not all listening is created equal. There are two types of listening: active and passive.

Below is a comparison between active listening and passive listening.

Active Listening Passive Listening
Involves actively engaging in the conversation Involves minimal effort and mental engagement
Requires paying attention to the speaker’s verbal and nonverbal cues Focuses only on the words being spoken
Requires responding appropriately to the speaker Does not require a response or feedback
Helps to build trust, understanding, and empathy Can lead to misunderstandings and ineffective communication
Is a critical skill for effective communication Is not always effective in interpersonal or professional contexts
Leads to improved relationships and outcomes May not result in any significant changes or improvements

Why Are Active Listening Skills Important in the Workplace?

Employees who possess active listening skills are more effective in conversations with not only colleagues but also clients and customers. Below are a few reasons why active listening is important in the workplace.

Improved Communication

One of the primary benefits of active listening is that it can improve communication. When you are actively listening to someone, you are not only hearing what they are saying but also trying to understand their point of view. This can help to prevent miscommunication and misunderstandings.

Increased Productivity

Active listening skills can also lead to increased productivity in the workplace. When employees feel like their concerns are being heard and addressed, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their work. Additionally, active listening can help resolve conflicts quickly and efficiently, saving time and increasing productivity.

Enhanced Problem-Solving

Another benefit of active listening is that it can enhance problem-solving skills. When you are actively listening, you are paying close attention to the person speaking and gathering information that can be used to solve a problem. This skill can be beneficial in various situations, such as brainstorming solutions to a work-related issue.

Improved Customer Service

Active listening is also important for customer service employees. When customers feel like they are being listened to and understood, they are more likely to be satisfied with the service they receive. Additionally, active listening techniques can help customer service employees resolve complaints more effectively.

Stronger Relationships

Active listening skills can also help build stronger relationships inside and outside the workplace. When you actively listen to someone, they are more likely to feel valued and appreciated. This can lead to improved communication and greater trust and respect between individuals.

How to Improve Active Listening Skills

You can use several techniques to improve your active listening skills and become a better communicator.

Show That You’re Listening

Ensure you show that you are listening by using nonverbal cues such as making eye contact, nodding your head, and smiling. It is also important to verbalize what the person has said through summarizing or paraphrasing to ensure you understand what was said.

Ask Questions

Asking questions about what the person has said shows that you are interested in the conversation and want to learn more about their thoughts and experiences. Asking questions can also help to clarify anything that you may have misunderstood.

Provide Feedback

You should provide feedback about the person’s words by agreeing or disagreeing with them, sharing your experiences, or offering advice or suggestions. Providing feedback shows that you are engaged in the conversation and that you care about what the other person is saying.

Avoid Distractions

Avoiding distractions means putting away your phone, turning off the television, and avoiding other activities that may take your attention away from the conversation. It can be difficult to avoid distractions, but focusing on the task at hand is important if you want to be an effective listener.

Be Patient

When trying to improve your active listening skills, it is essential to be patient with yourself and the other person. Learning to listen effectively takes time and practice, so don’t expect perfection from yourself or the other person immediately.

How Soft Skills Training Can Help Improve the Active Listening Skills of Your Employees

Soft skills training is one of the most effective ways to improve the active listening skills of your employees. Through interactive sessions and practical exercises, employees can learn techniques to stay engaged during conversations, avoid distractions, and eliminate biases.

Communication training for employees can also teach your staff to be empathetic and understand different perspectives, which is crucial for effective communication. By investing in soft skills training, employers can help their employees become better listeners and, in turn, create a more productive and harmonious work environment.

Get In-person and Online Soft Skills Training for Employees at TSSG

The Soft Skills Group (TSSG) offers an extensive range of in-person and online training opportunities designed to enhance employees’ interpersonal communication, problem-solving, and leadership abilities. With highly skilled trainers, TSSG is committed to providing tailored programs that meet each organization’s unique needs.

Whether you want to refine your team’s collaboration or develop a more customer-focused approach, we have the expertise and experience to help you succeed. Contact us today to book your spot!

Diana Kawarsky, MA, CCP

Diana is President of The Soft Skills Group Inc., and a senior training & development professional with over 20 years of experience in delivery, design & consulting with Fortune 500 companies, Universities & Colleges in Canada, USA, Europe, and Asia. Read More