Monday, February 28, 2011

Listening: One Way to Build Relationships By Barbara Baggerly-Hinojosa

In order to create and maintain good relationships with others, it is important to develop good communication skills which include the skill of listening.  Communication skills, such as listening, take continuous practice in order to be fully developed.  In order to be an effective leader and build strong and lasting relationships, we must be good listeners. 

Extraordinary leaders are great listeners who look at the speaker, ask questions, provide feedback, and act on the information they obtain.  Listening has always been important in the workplace, but is even more so today in a world where listening has become a fading art. It is clear that time has changed and so have the needs of those with whom we work and live.  

Today's employees want to be asked for feedback and they want to be heard. Here are three tips to help you become a better listener.

1. Look at the speaker.

One of the strongest ways a person knows when someone is not listening is that the “listener” is not looking at the “speaker.”  You know that feeling when you are speaking to someone and he/she does not make eye contact, is looking behind you, is texting, or day dreaming.  You know right away that the person is not listening, right?  Look directly at the person speaking.

2. Ask questions in response to a question.

That’s right.  Ask a question when someone asks you a question.  Great listeners ask questions, especially as a response to a question asked of them.  For example, when you are at work and run into an employee in the office on Monday morning, a typical exchange will be for you to ask about their weekend.  The employee is likely to respond, "Great. And Yours?”  You might respond with, “Mine was great, too. Did you and your husband have a chance to take the kids out during the great weather we had?” By asking questions in response to a question, a leader can show respect and a genuine interest in the well-being of other people.

Just as looking directly at a person who is speaking can make that person feel important, asking questions can make them feel as though their opinions count. In a business setting, asking questions that move the conversation forward and provide additional opportunities to listen to speakers is a great way to build relationships.

3. Provide feedback.

Great listeners solicit feedback in order to ensure that the followers know that the leader values their opinions. More importantly, great leaders take action based on that feedback. Action can be as simple as responding in an e-mail, "Great suggestion, Ana. I'll forward your idea to the appropriate person."  The more leaders ask for opinions, the more comfortable people feel offering it. This is a great way to promote positive relationships with those around us.

Practice these three tips to becoming a better listener and you will be on your way to becoming a super-success by listening more and talking less.

Photo Credits: Google Images and The McKinney Family

Barbara Baggerly-Hinojosa is a mother, educator, and wife living in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.  She is a PhD student with Our Lady of the Lake University in Leadership Studies.  Mrs. Baggerly-Hinojosa is the President of the Leadership Empowerment Group, LLC and is currently researching the relationship between the leadership of the high school principal and the high school drop out rate.  Mrs. Baggerly-Hinojosa is the author of Are You A Ten?  The Ten Characteristics of a Servant Leader.   For ordering information, please contact Mrs. Baggerly-Hinojosa at

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