Communication and Management: Part 2
Last month I presented four of five points about communication from a recent
article I wrote on management for the
The Military Comptroller. The month we will focus on the most important
July 2001 column gave tips for listening effectively, the
July 2002 column addressed the difference between listening and just
hearing, the July 20years\2006\0607.html06 column told how listening to others motivates
them. This month we will focus on Listening to Understand.
Effective managers listen both to find out what is going on and to understand
and show positive regard for others. Managers must be able to listen
empathically, listen critically and listen to gain information.
Listening empathically allows managers to get
into the world of others—to see, hear, feel and understand as they do. Empathic
listening, the kind that is reflective and non-judgmental, builds trust and
respect while communicating you care about others and what they say. Avoid
interrupting others and practice summarizing their messages, at times repeating
what they said back to them; this practice keeps you focused on their meaning
and demonstrates you understand.
Listening critically is necessary for managers
who must make important decisions and lead others in making decisions affecting
both the organization and other people. Managers must know their own strengths
and weaknesses as critical listeners and understand any biases they have that
may affect their judgment.
Listening for information is so critical that
managers must always be spring-loaded and ready to listen. Many factors affect
how we do or don’t hear: our emotional or physical health, environmental factors
and stress. Skilled managers work hard to offset or minimize such factors.
They also listen for ideas, not just facts. Concentration exclusively on facts
can cause listeners to miss the main ideas. Facts may be interesting in their
own right, but the reason facts are given usually is to develop a generalization
or support an idea.
Put simply: Effective managers listen effectively.