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June 2009 - Communication and Management: Part 2

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John Kline, PhD, inspirational and motivational keynote and after-dinner speaker and corporate trainer.June 2009

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 one—listening.  The 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.

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

December 2006 - Motivating Others: Communicate Clearly
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