Distractions are everywhere. It can be easy to listen, but do you always hear what someone else is saying above the noises around you or in your head? How can you more actively listen to your employees and colleagues? Here are the most common types of listening and how to become a better communicator in 2023.
Active vs. Passive Listening
Passive listening is what most of us do most of the time. It’s human nature to think about other things while someone else is talking. Sometimes we listen only long enough to formulate a response and then review it again before it’s our turn to speak, resulting in missed information. Active listening is the exact opposite. You focus on what the other person is saying and recap what they’ve said back to ensure you didn’t miss anything.
This type of listening is a little more engaged and more about problem-solving, analysis, and decision-making in real-time. You take notes, ask questions, and get clarification on unclear points. This kind of listening is intended in university-level classes, for instance. It’s also great for digging into work problems that need your attention and solution.
However, not all listening is good. As we’ve discussed, passive listening is not a great way to communicate. What’s worse is biased listening. Biased listening is a way to only listen long enough to hear what you want the speaker to say and respond. Like passive listening, you are likely to miss details. But you are also likely to confirm your beliefs instead of learning new information.
Communication Skills for Leadership
Eliminating passive and biased listening is essential to developing strong leadership skills. Focus on active listening and, when appropriate, critical listening. Sometimes your team needs you to hear them, but other times you must spring into action as a leader and help solve problems. To do more active or critical listening:
- Stop what you’re doing and be part of a conversation
- Mirror the body language of the person speaking
- Be collaborative by asking the speaker how they believe the problem can be solved
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