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Dear Workforce How Do We Teach Our Managers to Become More Effective Communicators

By Staff Report

May. 19, 2009

Dear Breakdown in Progress:

The best way to start an engaging conversation with employees is by active listening.

Show genuine concern
Giving someone your undivided attention is the best way to start an engaging conversation. Eye contact, a relaxed yet alert posture and modulating your voice are essential. Keep in mind that your employees want to receive your message and better understand your situation. Showing empathy, however, does not mean forbidding them from having differing points of view. The object is to find mutual ground.

Prompt for clarification
This involves clearing up confusion to foster greater understanding, without passing premature judgment. In other words, don’t use an attempt to clarify things as an excuse to dismiss another person’s viewpoint. Rather than telling them they’re wrong, soften your approach: “I disagree” or “My data says otherwise” are likely to be more well received

Paraphrase and pause
Part of clarifying things is repeating what someone tells you. This gives the listener a chance to correct your understanding and make sure both sides are on the same page. Providing people with a laundry list virtually ensures that key issues and ideas will be lost. Learning to pause and segment your message helps the receiver catch the gist much quicker. Also, take momentary breaks from the back-and-forth so the parties can ponder and posit new possibilities. That turns active listening into “creative listening.”

Sometimes you may not know what the other person is feeling. Rather than guess, you might say something like: “I know you are on board, but it sounds like you may have some frustration with the decision. Would you care to discuss it?”

Strategize and summarize
Strategic listening takes active listening to a next level. The goal is more than awareness and empathy. The purpose of such strategic back-and-forth is synergy, a sharing-listening-sharing loop that generates ideas, insights and imagination. It’s important to stop along the way and review and record agreements, unresolved differences and future steps at problem-solving.

SOURCE: Mark Gorkin, “The Stress Doc,” Washington, November 2008

LEARN MORE: Communication is considered crucial to engaging new employees, as well as explaining bonus and other compensation moves.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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