Long term research by the iOpener Institute into the Science of Happiness at Work shows that the feeling of being listened to is the single factor that has the highest correlation to an individual’s overall levels of happiness at work. And happiness, as you probably know, leads to higher performance and productivity.

So if you’re not listening to your peers, your team and your boss as well as you could be, you’re missing out on an incredible opportunity. (And let’s not forgot the people outside work.) If you asked the people around you now if they felt listed to, what might their response be? In fact, when was the last time you felt listened to at work?

Listening, I mean really listening, is a gift. When people feel listened to they feel acknowledged and valued. This directly impacts on their willingness to offer feedback and ideas, and to actively contribute and participate in the workplace. So if you want the people around you to bring their best, their discretionary effort, initiative and creativity, then you’d better be listening.

Now let’s be clear, this is about the feeling of being listened to. It’s not about you agreeing with or endorsing everything that is said. It’s not about you necessarily taking action following the conversation. This is about ‘how’ you listen to someone else.

So how do you listen? Are you present? Or are you listening for the gap in the conversation so you can say something? You know what it feels like when someone is only half listening to you. Do you really want to be doing that to someone? Especially knowing that it will likely impact not only on how they feel, but also on their performance and productivity.

To become a generous listener:

  • Make sure you have time to listen- If someone asks ‘have you got a minute?’ and you’re about to walk into a meeting or have something else that you need to focus on right now, then you need to make a clear decision. Do you have the time right now to generously listen to this person? If not find a better time and agree that with them. Let them know they are important too.
  • Be present- What I mean is ‘be’ in the conversation with the other person. Be focused on this conversation and person, not the one you just finished, or your next meeting. People can tell if you’re distracted and it doesn’t feel good.
  • Listen with your eyes- Don’t just listen with your ears. There is so much more going on. Watch for signs that someone’s body language is congruent with what they are saying. And if it’s not find out why.
  • Listen actively- You need to let the other person know that you are listening and with them in the conversation. There are lots of ways you can do this. Non-verbal signals like nodding your head and having eye contact. And you can ask great questions so you can find out more from them.
  • If nothing else, use the WAIT principle. Ask yourself Why Am I Talking?

Give the GIFT of generously listening. You might find that it’s a gift to you as well.