A common misconception is that communication is only talking but the second part of that equation is active listening. Active listening is a powerful tool in business communication. Many people think that they’re good listeners but active listening requires a conscious effort to hear and understand the total message that’s being sent–this includes verbal and nonverbal cues.
Active listening conveys respect to the speaker and allows you to get more out of each conversation. It’s important to foster a safe environment for the speaker to talk but add appropriate commentary when needed.
At SpecialtyCare, we’re consistently communicating with our associates, peers, leaders, and hospital staff. How well we communicate often determines how successful we are as leaders in our careers.
Stages of Active Listening
There are five stages of active listening:
In the receiving stage, the focus is what the speaker is saying. It’s important to isolate all outside distractions to ensure that there’s no confusion in hearing the message.
In the understanding stage, the focus is on the meaning of the message which isn’t always linear. Sometimes, the speaker may not enunciate their words or we attach our own meaning to the message. In this stage, it’s important to differentiate our own perceptions and experiences from that of the speaker.
Not remembering what the message was is the first sign of ineffective listening. Depending on the complexity of the message, some may be harder to understand and remember than others. You can apply the sender’s message in ways that are meaningful to you in order to improve your memory of messages received.
Evaluating is the process of judging the value of a message. Opinions and evaluations can vary by the listener due to perspectives gained from diverse backgrounds and life experiences.
The responding stage is often referred to as feedback. There are two types of feedback–formative and summative. Formative feedback is naturally integrated into a conversation with behaviors that indicate that you’re understanding the speaker’s message. This can include focused attention, note-taking, and head nodding. Summative feedback is given at the end of a conversation and can include verbal and nonverbal behaviors.
Active Listening Skills
There are some key skills that characterize people as strong listeners. It’s okay to ask clarifying questions to ensure that you understand what’s being said. Asking insightful questions positions yourself as more engaged in the conversation. Great conversations are a two-way street so it’s best if it’s active vs. passive.
Good listeners offer a positive environment in order to build the speaker’s self-esteem. It’s important to provide a safe environment where differences can be discussed openly and honestly. Additionally, sharing feedback equally in both directions yields a more cooperative conversation.
Good listeners offer suggestions that are positively received and open up the conversation to alternate points of view.
Benefits of Active Listening
There are many benefits to active listening. It builds deep trust between you and the speaker. It allows you to broaden your perspective so that you don’t simply attach your own opinions and biases to someone else’s message. Active listening makes you approachable and strengthens your patience. Additionally, it increases competency and knowledge, saves time and money, and helps detect and solve problems.
Active listening is a crucial part of business communication. It’s not just absorbing the message but also amplifying the sender’s thinking. Practicing strong active listening has proven to deepen relationships, improve workplace performance and productivity, and build confidence. At SpecialtyCare, we strive for strong business communication within our organization to yield the highest level of success for our leaders, associates, and hospital staff in their careers.
About Speciality Care
SpecialtyCare is dedicated to providing an exceptional patient experience, becoming the OR employer of choice, and leading the way in OR innovation. We do this through staffing operating rooms and providing the equipment needed for medical procedures.