Active Listening & Non-Verbal Communication
Many times, we passively collect the information makes it through our ears and into our brains and, as a result, we don't fully understand the message. We engage in active listening when we treat listening as a conscious effort to understand what is being said.

Active Listening & Non-Verbal Communication

For the past few weeks we’ve focused on the internal aspects of communication that influence how others receive our message. We’ve also discussed the barriers and filters that keep us from understanding others when they communicate with us. This week, we talk about practical actions that will improve our external communication skills by taking an active role in hearing others through active listening in addition to observing non-verbal communication.

Many times, we passively collect the information makes it through our ears and into our brains and, as a result, we don’t fully understand the message. We engage in active listening when we treat listening as a conscious effort to understand what is being said.

Active Listening Tips

Active listening doesn’t always come naturally, yet there are steps we can take to improve our listening skills. Making a conscious effort to listen ensures that we understanding what others are trying to tell us which consequently leads to making more informed decisions. We also can learn to recognize if others are actively listening to our message and really understanding us. These four practical tips will help transform our listening from passive to active and, as a result, improve our communication:

  • Avoid communication barriers
  • Take notes
  • Summarize, ask questions and clarify points
  • Observe non-verbal communication cues

Non-Verbal Communication as Part of Active Listening

Non-verbal cues convey a great deal about how well we are communicating with others and give us an indication if they are understanding our message. In the video, Jason talks about four different kinds of non-verbal communication behavior and how they pertain to active listening. He even demonstrates non-verbal cues that engaged and non-engaged listeners show.

  • Eye contact
  • Smiling
  • Posture
  • Mirroring

Finally, if you’re interested in finding our more about active listening and non-verbal communication, there is some great information on the site Skills You Need. There are some additional skills for you to try, as well as a few more types of non-verbal communication you can take a look at.

 

 

Sometimes, we can make understanding others even more difficult by unknowing putting conversation filters in place that impact how we understand others. These conversation filters can prevent us from fully grasping the message that others are trying to get across to us. In addition, these filters can negatively impact our professional relationships because we are perceived as someone who doesn't listen. Innovation and initiative often suffer on teams where the leader doesn't listen because team members have little incentive to offer ideas.

Conversation Filters That Obscure Communication

Communicating effectively is one of the most important leadership skills and can be difficult even under the best of circumstances. As we talked about in last week’s video, there are many barriers to communication that come from external sources. Sometimes, we can make understanding others even more difficult by unknowing putting conversation filters in place that impact how we listen. These conversation filters prevent us from fully grasping the message that others are trying to get across to us. In addition, our team members might perceive us as someone who doesn’t listen if we fall victim to these filters. Innovation and initiative often suffer on teams where the leader doesn’t listen because team members have little incentive to offer ideas.

Conversation Filters

There are many conversation filters that limit our ability to understand the message that others are trying to get across. In this week’s video, Jason talks about three of the most common filters that you may experience, how to recognize them and how to deal with them effectively if you run into them:

  • Correcting – interrupting others to interject our view of what the facts are.
  • Interrogating – drilling down with questions to trap someone or place blame
  • One-upping – emphasizing our own accomplishments over others

We gathered a lot of the information we used in this video from a post by Peter Vjada. If you’d like to learn about more conversation filters and how to keep them from impacting our understanding you can check out the article here.

Effective communication isn’t just about how well we speak. How we listen to others is often more important to leadership than what we say.  Leaders must create a climate where ideas are listened to without bias in order to encourage creative solutions. To improve communication on our team we need to understand conversation filters and how they impact our ability to listen.

As leaders we spend a lot of time communicating with others. We communicate with the members of our team, peers, more senior leaders, customers and stakeholders. Effective communication is vital to ensuring that everyone on our team fulfills their role and accomplishes their part of the mission in conjunction with all the other members of the team. Even the most skilled communicators run up against communication barriers when they speak with other people. What makes these leaders such effective communicators is that they recognize these barriers exist and find ways to break them down.Perhaps an even bigger challenge is to notice when these barriers exist inside ourselves and prevent us from fully understand what others are trying to communicate to us.

Communication Barriers – Video Guide

As leaders we spend a lot of time communicating with others, whether we are trying to convey information, persuade others to support our position, or tell others about a decision we have made. We communicate with the members of our team, peers, more senior leaders, customers and stakeholders. Effective communication is vital to ensuring that everyone on our team fulfills their role and accomplishes their part of the mission in conjunction with all the other members of the team. Even the most skilled communicators run up against communication barriers when they speak with other people. What makes these leaders such effective communicators is that they recognize these barriers exist and find ways to break them down. Perhaps an even bigger challenge is to notice when these barriers exist inside ourselves and prevent us from fully understand what others are trying to communicate to us. Without the ability to recognize these communication barriers we run the risk of others misunderstanding what we are trying to communicate to them, or we may miss critical information or context that others are trying to communicate to us.

Communication Barriers

There are many barriers to communication and in this week’s video, Jason talks about a several of the most common barriers  that we might encounter in our day-to-day interactions with others. He’ll discuss each of the following communication barriers in detail as well as how they come to occur in our daily communications:

  • Language
  • Power Dynamics
  • Beliefs and Values
  • Age
  • Gender
  • State of Mind
  • Emotions

Jason also talks about the challenges of recognizing some of these barriers within ourselves and others, as well as practical steps we can take to overcome each of these communication barriers when they arise. Learning to identify communication barriers in ourselves and others can help us become master communicators that use our skills to lead others to achieve highly successful outcomes and accomplish our missions.

 

It's pretty clear to most of us that effective communication is essential to becoming a great leader. Whether we are the boss or just want to influence others on our team to contribute to a successful outcome, we need to be able to communicate clearly and concisely using a variety of methods.

Effective Communication – June Leadership Challenge

It’s pretty clear to most of us that effective communication is essential to becoming a great leader. Whether we are the boss or just want to influence others on our team to contribute to a successful outcome, we need to be able to communicate clearly and concisely using a variety of methods. Without effective communication we can find our team headed off in a direction different from the one we intended them to take, or we may need to give them much more supervision than we originally intended because we weren’t clear in our intentions for them.

Effective Communication Challenge

This month our challenge is to take a look at the ways we communicate with each other most frequently and to assess how effective our communication is. What is our most common method of communication? Face-to-Face? Email? Social Media? Phone? Something else? Do we think we are getting our message across clearly and concisely? Are other confused about what we are saying and have a hard time understanding what we want them to do? Do we often find that others come back to us with questions or need clarification? Sometime, does our team execute exactly what we said to do, but we maybe didn’t say clearly what we mean for them to do?

Our goal for this challenge is to consciously understand how we communicate most frequently with our team and start to determine if we are effective using that method. If we find that we might not have as effective communication as we would like, we can make adjustments and improvements now that we are aware of it. This month at Evil Genius Leadership Consultants we’ll be putting out more videos to help us address the areas we find from this challenge and become more effective communicators!

Photo Credit: By Nbostonstudio (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons