The effective communication umbrella is comprised of many skills. However, among these skills, many consider active listening an underrated skill. But there’s a reason why doing this is a mistake.
Active listening is just as important — if not more — than speaking. Active listening is a critical component of communication and building solid relationships in the business world. Business leaders and entrepreneurs who master the art of active listening can improve their communication skills and enhance their professional relationships.
This guide will go over active listening and how you can improve it to become a master in the business world.
What Is Active Listening?
Active listening is the skill or practice of fully focusing on, understanding, and responding to the speaker’s message.
It involves listening to words, observing nonverbal queues, and paying attention to the speaker’s tone of voice and overall message. To become a master active listener, one must put much effort and focus.
Active listening is one of the most important social skills for building solid relationships. Through active listening, you show the speaker you are interested in what they say and value their perspective. It also fosters trust and respect for developing successful business relationships.
Now, let’s look at how business leaders and entrepreneurs can improve their active listening skills and reap the benefits of this highly-valuable communication skill.
How to Improve Your Active Listening Skills
Improving your active listening skills takes practice and is worth the effort. Here are a few tips to help you become a better active listener:
Focus on the Speaker
One of the most critical components of active listening is to focus on the speaker. Although active listening involves listening to the speaker, your body language also plays a role.
So, it would be best if you gave the speaker your undivided attention. Eliminate distractions and focus on what they are saying.
Here is the part where your body language comes into play. Listening to the speaker is no good if they notice you’re not interested in conversing.
So, you must maintain eye contact with the speaker, nod your head, and ask follow-up questions to demonstrate your engagement in what they say.
No one likes to be interrupted, especially business leaders who value their time.
Patience is another core component of active listening. You must wait for the speaker to finish before responding. Interrupting the speaker harms the chances of forming a meaningful business relationship.
Moreover, they will see right through you and take the first opportunity to stop the conversation, probably without being too direct and hurting your feelings.
Reflect on the Message
Active listening is about taking information, processing it, and responding. Once the speaker finishes what they say, what follows next is crucial to your chances of forming a business relationship.
So you have to reflect on what the speaker has said before responding. Then, responding appropriately is critical to taking the conversation to the next level.
If you’re successful, it shows that you are considering their message and are taking it seriously. Remember that conversing is a two-way street where both parties must add their input.
So pay attention to the previous steps to ensure a successful outcome.
Ask Clarifying Questions
Very few of us get the message on the first go.
The message can get lost in transit despite your best efforts to listen to the speaker’s words. So, if you are unsure about something the speaker said, ask for clarification.
Don’t see this as a drawback. Remember that you aim to forge a meaningful business relationship. Therefore, you must understand the speaker’s message.
Following up with clarifying questions helps ensure you understand their message correctly.
Paraphrasing is yet another tool you can use for greater clarity. So you must repeat the speaker’s message in your own words to ensure you understood it correctly. This also helps to show the speaker that you are actively listening and engaged in the conversation.
Finally, provide feedback on what they’ve said. Once the speaker has finished speaking, show that you have understood their message and appreciate their view by providing feedback.
Giving feedback goes a long nicely in helping you build relationships with potential business partners and leaders in your sphere.
Benefits of Active Listening in the Business World
Having learned the art of active listening, let’s find out the benefits of using the skill in the business. Below are some of the benefits of active listening in building business relationships:
- Building Trust — Trust is earned in the business world and is an integral component of any business relationship. Therefore, you want to show the speaker that you’re trustworthy by demonstrating your interest in their point of view.
- Strengthening Relationships — With active listening, you show the speaker that you respect and value their opinions, which can increase mutual trust and respect.
- Improves Understanding — Active listening helps you fully understand the speaker’s message, which can help avoid misunderstandings and miscommunications.
- Improving Decision-Making — Although far from the only benefits, active listening improves your decision-making skills. With active listening, you take in the speaker’s information, process it, and respond accordingly.
Active listening is an essential component of effective communication. It improves your communication skills and enhances your professional relationships.
Modern business leaders who want to build strong relationships in the business world must learn to master the art of active listening, as the benefits are worthwhile.
By following these tips, you improve your active listening skills and work to become a more effective communicator. Lastly, remember that active listening is an active process that requires effort and focus and takes time to master.
Practice today and transform your business journey.
About the Author
Erik Bergman is a successful entrepreneur who played a key role in the growth and success of Catena Media, an iGaming company that grew to over 300 employees and a valuation of $200 million. However, driven by his passion for making a positive impact, Erik left Catena Media to found Great.com, an innovative iGaming organization with a unique social mission.
Great.com donates all of its profits to environmental charities, providing a powerful example of how businesses can prioritize social responsibility and sustainability. Under Erik’s leadership, Great.com has become a leading force for good in the iGaming industry, raising millions of dollars for a wide range of environmental causes and inspiring others to take action toward a better world.
Erik’s thought leadership extends beyond his own platforms, as he is a regular contributor to leading publications like Entrepreneur.com, Business Insider, Foundr, and Forbes. He also hosts the Becoming Great podcast, where he interviews successful entrepreneurs and shares his own experience and knowledge.
Erik shares his insights on entrepreneurship, business strategy, and social impact through his writing, inspiring others to create businesses that make a positive difference in the world.
In addition to his professional achievements, Erik is a passionate advocate for environmental causes and is actively involved in several organizations that are working to make the world a better place.