How to Improve Your Team’s Listening Skills

Dealing with customers means soft skills like listening need to be honed just as you would technical skills practiced in the field. Here are some tips.

How to Improve Your Team’s Listening Skills

Jimmy’s Johnnys owner Anderson, left, and technician Morrisette position a Satellite Industries hand-wash station at the food parade. Keeping adequate wash stations available was critical to allaying COVID-19 concerns at the event.

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Listening is a crucial skill for anyone who works in a customer-facing position.

This is true for receptionists, it’s true for sales reps, it’s true for field technicians, and it’s even true for managers: To provide an optimal customer experience, you must be equipped to listen carefully, to truly understand what the customer is asking for, and to comprehend their underlying goals and pain points.

As you think about team development, one thing you might consider is being more intentional about developing your employees’ ability to practice active listening. Here are a few tips and recommendations.

Engage your team in dialogue

This may sound counterintuitive, but the best way to help your employees listen may be to get them talking.

Think about it this way: If you have team meetings where you’re simply talking at your employees rather than courting their opinions and inviting some give-and-take, you’re not really giving them any incentive to listen carefully. All they really need to do is catch the basic bullet points of what you’re saying, to whatever extent it applies to them.

But if you create a work environment in which employees feel like their voices matter, they’re likely to be more attentive to what’s said around them, knowing that they may have an opportunity to weigh in or to push back.

Focus on your own communication

As you seek to improve your team members’ listening skills, make sure you’re actually communicating with them in a way that engages them fully.

In particular, emphasize direct eye contact and use the right body language to draw your employees into conversation. Remember, if you approach your conversations in a lifeless or unengaging way, you’re not providing any incentive for your employees to invest in careful listening.

Model good listening

This is an area where you can accomplish a lot simply by setting a good example.

When employees talk to you, listen attentively. When they are done speaking, ask any clarifying questions that you need to ask, then summarize what the employee just said, letting them know that you heard and understood them. Above all, make sure you never interrupt. Instead, defer judgment until the employee is finished speaking. Follow this same model when you talk with customers or vendors, especially if there are any employees there to observe you.

This provides them with a healthy example that they can follow in their own interactions with customers.

Explain the importance of active listening

It may also be helpful to articulate to your employees exactly why active listening is so meaningful. In team meetings, consider reminding your employees that listening skills:

  • Can significantly improve customer experience and satisfaction
  • Can reduce the number of errors or do-overs required
  • May provide opportunities for outside-the-box thinking
  • Allow your company to remain competitive within the market

Active listening really is an asset to your team and can allow employees the opportunities they need to learn and to grow. Impressing this on them may be an important way of coaching them in their own active listening skills.

About the Author

Amanda Clark is the president and editor-in-chief of Grammar Chic, a full-service professional writing company. She is a published ghostwriter and editor, and she's currently under contract with literary agencies in Malibu, California, and Dublin. Since founding Grammar Chic in 2008, Clark, along with her team of skilled professional writers, has offered expertise to clients in the creative, business and academic fields. The company accepts a wide range of projects; often engages in content and social media marketing; and drafts resumes, press releases, web content, marketing materials and ghostwritten creative pieces. Contact Clark at www.grammarchic.net.




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