Communication is key. How many times have we heard that effective communication is a main factor in ensuring success? Part of communication is also effective listening and that is what I want to talk about today. One should strive to always be an effective listener but when it is particularly important is when dealing with team members that may be emotionally distressed. The following are a few strategies can help (Building Stronger Teams - Supporting Effective Team Leaders, The Great-West Life Assurance Company 2016):
- Minimize distractions such as your phone, computer, people walking by or other interruptions. Try to manage distracting thoughts by repeating the words that the individual says silently to yourself, this should also help you focus on the what is actually being said. Be aware of nonverbal communication such as the tone of voice, eye contact and body language.
- Show that you’re listening and understanding. You may encourage them to keep talking and also give them an opportunity to clarify their thoughts and feelings, ensure you are on the same track. Make eye contact, nod your head and make comments that indicate understanding.
Seek to Understand
- Listen not only to the words someone is saying but consider the underlying feelings, thoughts or opinions.
- Try to view the situation from the team member’s perspective. Remember that the team member has had different life experiences and may not see things the way you do.
My challenge for all LPSD staff is to work on their communication skills and try practicing effective listening this month. This is not only limited to at school with co-workers but also includes in the classroom with students, with parents and even at home with your families. Add this to the Monthly Challenge: Connecting with loved ones - take 5 miuntes a day to talk and listen with family and friends, that was put forth in the LPSD On the Way to Wellness email.