Every engineering leader knows how important good communication is with his/her team. It helps that you can talk well, but to be able to have good communications with your team is another. You need to be able to listen well to be able to engage with your team, colleagues and customers. Here are some tips you can work on to improve your listening skills.
Schedule a good time and proper location
Choosing a good environment to hold a meeting in can greatly affect your conversation with your team. Timing is also essential. If the topic you’re going to talk about with your team is sensitive or complex, choose a room with a quiet atmosphere, or maybe book a place offsite.
The Power of Eye contact and Body Language
Source: Business Insider
Showing your engagement in the conversation shows that you are sincere in wanting to listen and understand. Close your laptop, put your phone on silent and listen. Eye contact is a good way to show that your attention is on the speaker. Just don’t stare.
Body language is also important to look out for. Stop fidgeting and avoid other distracting mannerisms. Also, stop checking your phone every 5 mins or so. Instead, send signals that you are following along and participating in the conversation by leaning in towards them, nodding, and showing appropriate facial expressions.
Don’t interrupt. Focus on absorbing and understanding what’s being said
It’s important that when you are listening, you shouldn’t cut in when the speaker is trying to explain his train of thought. Stop butting in solutions and thought when he/she is still speaking. Reserve them when he/she’s done explaining his/her thought.
Encourage the speaker to keep going and complete his/her thought
Usually, when a speaker is talking about something difficult or complex, ideas can be explained in a rushed manner. So encourage them to continue by silence, or maybe saying “tell me more”, or “explain it further”, or “continue”.
After the speaker has expressed the whole thought, paraphrase what you’ve understood and as if you understood correctly. Say something like “Do I understand it correctly?” or “So you’re trying to say…”
Use open ended follow up questions
Follow up questions not only shows that you really are interested in the topic you and your team are talking about. It also keeps the conversation alive, and more ideas can pop out from this conversation. The engagement will result in fresh ideas, and your team will be able to learn from each other as well.