Do you provide verbal and non-verbal feedback (e.g. questioning, paraphrasing, or gestures) while you listen to another person speaking? Active listening does not mean you agree with the other person; it means you understand what they are saying. Active listening reduces misunderstandings, creates shared understanding and improves trust; it is a critical skill for both your professional and personal lives.
5 Tips for Improving Active Listening Skills
Stay focused and avoid distractions like multitasking (e.g. using your phone or computer during a conversation).
Use non-verbal responses to indicate you are listening (e.g. nod your head). Remember this is still important on video calls.
Summarize or ask for clarification (e.g. “You said x, y, z is that correct?”) throughout the conversation to ensure mutual understanding.
Don’t jump to conclusions. Make sure you fully understand by asking questions like “Did you mean…?” “Do you think there are other options?”
Give feedback that is immediate, honest and supportive or constructive. In other words, do not criticize or grumble; instead offer suggestions — this is what continuous improvement is about!
Kate Newberg is a problem-solver who partners with executives, managers and staff to help them succeed. After spending more than 15 years helping others develop strategies, improve processes and achieve operational excellence, Kate learned success comes from how well you connect with the people you’re trying to help. That is why she incorporates change management principles into all of her engagements.
Kate is a principal consultant for GPS (https://www.governmentperformance.us/) – they work with organizations driven by their mission and not profit. She serves as co-director of learning and development on the Board of the Colorado Lean Network (CLN) and is the chair for the 2020 CLN Lean Summit.
She strives to elevate the strategic importance of continuous learning as a means for individuals to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviors to help them to adapt to changes and excel in their workplace. She has designed, developed and taught multiple courses on topics such as problem solving, process improvement, change management, accountability, attention management and more!
Kate holds a Bachelor of Arts from the Grandview University, a Leadership certification from Oregon State University, a Strategic Leadership and Management certificate from University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, and a Lean Six Sigma Greenbelt certification.
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