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Thoughts From Our Director

LISTEN: Improve Your Communication Skills

In my last blog post, I promised actionable steps on how you can take personal responsibility for improving your own communication behavior.  A good start is by following the acronym, LISTEN.

Look interested – Get interested. Give your full attention to the speaker. Look them in their eyes (don’t stare) and truly listen to what they are telling you. Put down your electronic device and make eye contact. If you are on the phone, imagine the person is in front of you and put away distractions.

Involve yourself by responding, smiling, nodding and responding. Add short interjections such as, “I see,” “go on” and “interesting.” You can follow-up with, “Tell me more.” “What did you do next?” or “How did that make you feel?”

Stay on track. Focus on this conversation, not everything else that is happening or needs to get done. Since we are all busy people, our brains are often in overdrive thinking about all the things we have to do and it can make it difficult to concentrate on the speaker. Do your best not to look away, at your watch or phone, or over their shoulder as they are speaking to you.

Test your understanding. Summarize what the person has said using words like, “So what you are saying is,” and “So if I understand correctly, you are …”

Evaluate the message. Take a moment to consider the information you have received and what needs to happen next. Confirm your understanding of next steps. Get agreement and create a plan for follow up if necessary.

Neutralize your feelings. Use your emotions as signals. Charles Stroebel, M.D., in QR: The Quieting Reflex, reports that we suffer approximately 30 “heart hassles’ a day. He describes these as moments of “irritating, frustrating, or distressing mini-crises.” If you multiply that by 365 days in a year, during the course of 70 years, it comes to more than 750,000 in a lifetime! Despite this frequency, most people have paid little, if any, attention to how they respond to delays, disagreements, and disappointments, and the impact of their reactions on their relationships, health and success.

It’s critical to be aware of how you react to frustration, because every one of your responses creates positive or negative repercussions that accumulate throughout your day and lifetime. However, if you’re like most people, you’ve never thought about the importance of your reactions when you communicate with people at work (or at home).

If you struggle with communication, your EAP professional can help you.  Call us today!

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