Listening can be the hardest part of a being a great manager or colleague.
There is always a lot going on in the other person’s life that they are trying to understand, make sense of and cope with.
Some people talk about their lives openly while others don’t talk about personal things at all, even though their concerns may be affecting their work.
Generally, people talk to make sense of their world, their relationships and the tasks they have to do. Talking about these things with someone who actively listens is vital for good emotional health.
Active listening means acknowledging what the other person is saying, especially noticing the feelings behind their words.
They may need to talk because they are unsure about how to deal with a client or colleague. Other times they may be unsure about how to approach a task or how to get all their work done.
You could easily fall into the trap of giving advice because you may have been around longer, or you have already dealt with this issue yourself in your life and you see the ‘easy answer’. Giving advice too soon is a trap.
Active listening on the other hand helps people to work these things out for themselves and come up with their own solutions.
Occasionally it might be useful to make suggestions as to what the other person can do, but more often the real power is in you listening to them and letting them work things out for themselves.