Tenets of Active Listening

[tag-tec]Active listening[/tag-tec] is a practice that promotes openness and two-way communications. It is necessary for success as a project manager, and is especially necessary for success in an agile environment. You can stimulate active listening by using triggers that you push you into a productive pattern.

This productive pattern is what you need to truly be an active listener. Here are a few triggers that foster this healthy, helpful pattern of active listening:

  • Ask [tag-dir]open-ended questions[/tag-dir] - When you ask open-ended questions,you allow the hidden meanings to bubble to the surface. You also prevent yourself from falling victim to you own blind spots by not constraining the conversation.
  • Ask for more information - Similar to open-ended questions, this provides permission to the speaker to cover the topic broadly, not leaving anything to chance.
  • Ask for opinions and analysis - When you ask others what they think, you not only encourage them to grow, but make them feel comfortable and valuable in providing you with needed information and potential solutions. Be sure also to give them some feedback and credit!
  • Listen all the way to the end - This can be tough sometimes, and it requires some discipline! Let somebody say their piece, and if they are wandering, give them questions and feedback along the way to encourage them to come to a conclusion to their statements.
  • [tag-dir]Defer judgment[/tag-dir] - Don’t interrupt with counter arguments; allow someone to express their thoughts to completion before passing judgment.

Being an active listener is a core communications capability that will serve you well in any management role.