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Active Listening

You may think that you are always listening to others… are you sure?

Recent studies show that we don’t listen; we hear them talking but we choose the words we want to hear or because we are so busy thinking other stuff we don’t even hear a word!

However, if you are managing a team, it is important to listen to the team members, stakeholders and definitely, your sponsor. Their body language may not give you enough information to assess whether they are saying is what you are expecting or not! Especially, in diverse environments, body language might not be a good source for the message he or she is putting forward!

Active listening can be described as intentionally focusing on who is speaking in order to understand what is meant. It is one of the most important skills everyone should have, regardless of their position or role within the project. It encourages being part of a team and maintaining effective communication with everyone around you. As experts have identified that listening is only 45% of the message, the rest can be increased with active listening.

Active Listening has three levels:

1. Basic listening – Quiet, passive listening; hearing the words and interpreting them into your own words

2. Listening to understand – Focused listening; listening to the words spoken and confirming without changing

3. Active listening – While listening, it includes the team’s environment, diversity and cultural background into a given message; try to understand the speaker’s point of view.

There are different methods to improve active listening, such as HEAR Method (Hear, Empathize, Analyze, Respond), which it is a simple but effective way of improving your listening!

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