Have you ever had a conversation with someone who seemed to be paying attention, but you felt like they weren’t really listening? Interestingly, an Accenture survey shows that 96% of people believe they are good listeners. However, we might be overestimating our abilities: according to research, we actually retain only 50% of what people say to us!

In today’s fast-paced work environment, effective communication and good listening skills are more critical than ever. Unfortunately, poor listening skills can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and damaged relationships between you and your co-workers, resulting in a toxic working environment. Moreover, poor communication and a lack of support from colleagues can exacerbate mental health issues, leading to increased stress and burnout. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that mental health disorders are the leading cause of disability and lost productivity in the workplace.

Before we can become better listeners, it is crucial to acknowledge and address our bad listening habits. Whether you are a manager or a team member, being a good listener plays a vital role in creating a positive workplace culture that supports mental wellness. Let’s explore how we can create a foundation for effective communication and build better relationships with our colleagues!

Identifying and Breaking Bad Listening Habits

  1. Interrupting:

    Have you ever been interrupted mid-sentence? Not only is it frustrating, but it can also make you feel like what you have to say isn’t important. There are several reasons why people interrupt another person when they are speaking, such as impatience, lack of interest, or feeling like they already know what the speaker is going to say. Interruption can also make the speaker feel like their message is not important and can hinder effective communication.

  2. Distraction:

    Distraction during a conversation is another common bad listening habit that can hinder effective communication. Distraction can take many forms, such as checking your phone or computer, looking around the room, or engaging in other activities while the speaker is talking. A distracted listener might have a lack of interest in the topic, or feel overwhelmed by other tasks on hand.

  3. Defensive Listening:

    Have you ever felt like someone was arguing with you instead of really listening to what you had to say? Defensive listening involves a listener becoming defensive or argumentative in response to the speaker’s message. The listener may perceive the speaker’s message as a personal attack or may have pre-existing biases or beliefs that cause them to react defensively. This can lead to tension and conflict in the conversation, and the speaker may feel like they are not being heard or understood.

Practicing Good Listening Habits

  1. Active Listening:

    To practice active listening, you can use techniques such as paraphrasing and summarizing what the speaker has said to ensure you have understood their message correctly. You can also ask open-ended questions to encourage the speaker to provide more information and show that you are interested in their perspective. Using nonverbal cues such as maintaining eye contact, nodding, and leaning forward can also demonstrate your attentiveness to the conversation.

  2. Empathic Listening:

    Empathic listening involves showing the speaker that you understand their emotions and perspective, even if you do not agree with their opinion. Try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine how they might be feeling, or what their thought process might be. You can also validate their feelings by acknowledging their emotions and showing empathy.

  3. Non-judgmental Listening:

    To practice non-judgmental listening, you should avoid interrupting or dismissing the speaker’s ideas or opinions, even if they are different from your own. Instead, try to listen with an open mind and refrain from making any judgments or criticisms. You can also ask questions to clarify their point of view and show that you are interested in learning more.

How do Good Listening Skills Impact Workplace Culture?

How can both employers and employees benefit from good listening skills? These skills play a crucial role in building strong relationships among co-workers, leading to better collaboration and increased job satisfaction. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, employees who feel heard and understood are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work, leading to a 50% reduction in voluntary turnover rates.

Another study by the University of Michigan found that employees who feel they can freely share their ideas and opinions are more likely to report higher levels of job satisfaction, better mental health, and a greater sense of belonging in the workplace.

When everyone in your team makes an effort to be a good listener, that’s where the magic happens! Good listening skills can improve the workplace culture, making it a positive and supportive environment for everyone. It can lead to better mental wellness, less stress, and more motivated and engaged team members. Let’s make a conscious effort to be good listeners and create a workplace where everyone feels heard and valued!

About Aventis Wellness

Aventis Wellness (AW) is an evidence-based Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and Counselling Provider. At Aventis Wellness, we recognize the importance of mental wellness and strive to offer affordable and accessible counselling and coaching services in full confidentiality. We bring together a community of industry practitioners, mental wellness experts, university partners, counsellors, therapists and learners.

We are here to support you and all companies towards a healthier and more engaged workforce by providing workplace well-being solutions. Many of our practitioners are highly experienced and come from diverse backgrounds. They offer wide-ranging areas of counselling catered to meet the needs of different companies or individuals.

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