This afternoon I contacted a person on my staff to get their feedback on a new form we will be using to build PC's. Towards the end of the conversation, my employee commented that I should look into the Effective Listening Skills class that our company is hosting.

At first I was a little offended, but after some thought I realized that maybe I should. I've always been told that I possess good listening skills, but what does that mean? I also wondered what the best way would be to handle a comment like that?

To our Manager-Tools hosts, have you ever considered putting a Podcast together on Effective Listening skills.

To my forum mates, I would you have handled receiving this comment from one of your employees?

juliahhavener's picture
Licensee Badge

Thank them for the suggestion/information. They apparently have either seen some value in it for themselves, or feel that you miss some piece of various discussions and would truly benefit from it.

Either way, it is feedback.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Yes, and it's in the queue.

And I would've said, "thanks! I always appreciate input like that."

Smile at people on the way up,'ll see them on the way back down....


TomW's picture
Training Badge

I would not take it as an insult. It may not have been related to your conversation. They might have gone themselves, found it enjoyable, and thought you may as well.

I tend to give someone the benefit of the doubt until they really offend me. I assume that most people follow the John Wayne philosophy of insults "If you [i]think[/i] I insulted you, you're wrong. If I insult you, you'll g$*&#@mn sure know it"

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Anybody who takes this kind of stuff as an insult needs to remind themselves that how you feel is your fault.

Not everyone knows the feedback model...but geez, ANY input, any GUIDANCE, ANY suggestion is helpful to someone who sees it that way. If he was going to insult you, he probably would have ignored you and gone back to his friends and ripped you to them.

Stop getting offended and think about the benefit. Being offended is NOT an effective state of mind.

Remember John Wayne: "If you think I've insulted you, you're mistaken. Because if I've insulted you, you'll damn sure know it."


davis200's picture

The more you know, the more you grow.

Thank them and take the course.

btw A few years ago "Bits and Pieces" had an interesting take on communication.

Three Keys to Successful Communication.

1. Listen to the other person's story.
2. Listen to the other person's full story.
3. Listen to the other person's full story first.

tohm's picture

I've listened to the 'pay better attention' podcast and also the one on 'taking notes' which both I think can be used to improve listening and attention, Active Listening though seems from my internet searches on the topic to be something recommended often but had to find anything that will tell me how to practice or do it.

jhack's picture

The "Effective Everday Conversations" podcasts touches on some of it.

Some of the stuff out there on Active Listening isn't for a professional setting. It's for marriage counselling, etc...

A technique I find effective is to (in my mind) play the role of their advocate or PR person. I try to understand the core of their message, and look for the best parts of it. It means listening, constructing a model in my head, rephrasing what they've told me to verify my understanding, and asking questions of them that complete the picture.

Mastering the other person's point of view has several benefits. You are taken seriously if you disagree. Your points in disagreement are informed and are therefore much more effective. And, not least, you may find their point of view valid and worthy; you'll have learned something and earned respect for a willingness to embrace new ideas.


tohm's picture

Thanks John,

I particularly like the benifits you listed as having more credibility when disagreeing I believe is critical to constructive forms of conflict.
I might try finding some PR books, are there any you recommend?


jhack's picture

I don't know of any good PR books, but I can recommend "The New Strategic Selling" by Heiman and Sanchez. The selling model they present is very much aligned with "active listening"


rjholohan's picture

There is a 2-part podcast episode series on effective listening on the website that you might find to be interesting. It describes how to be a sympathetic manager to your employees/team members:

pneuhardt's picture

On very helpful thing a very wise manager once said to me was this: It is never too early to shut up and listen, but it is often too late.

hjfarr8's picture

 I agree that an effective listening podcast would be very useful. There are a lot of articles out there that talk about listening in a vague and theoretical way. I find the ones that include instructions like 'make sure you listen' very infuriating. I get a fair bit of feedback that I don't listen, and it is really hard to change the behaviour when you can't see yourself doing it. 

One of the hardest things I find is not thinking while the other person is talking. I find it particularly difficult especially when I'm interested in what the other person is saying as I find I hear an interesting point and then my thoughts go to that point while the conversation keeps moving along  

i have had some success with improving my ability to listen by turning my computer screen off while I'm talking to a person face to face or over the phone. It's just one less distraction to worry about.

GlennR's picture

Regarding a "Listening" podcast, let me just say, "I'd listen to that!"

Here are three strategies I use which have made me a much better listener:

  • Accept the fact that multi-tasking is a myth. Therefore, give the other person your undivided attention.
    As mentioned by HFARR8 above, I turn off my computer monitor. If my phone rings I refuse to look at the caller ID and focus solely on the person sitting across from me.
    I do not allow myself to get distracted by emails, IM's, or anything else.


  • Engage the other person by reframing or reaffirming what he or she has said.
    Ask questions to achieve clarity. "What's your biggest obstacle?" I think I heard you say X. Does this mean ____?" "What's the benefit to our customers/employees/organization?" "What are your next steps?"
    I reframe the other person's statements, "So, what I'm hearing is that you...."
  • I encourage more conversation by making statements such as "Tell me more about that."


  • Take brief notes
    I take "keyword" notes trying to capture the key work in each point the other is making. I am too slow to take lengthy notes.

 I love the quote: "Listen with the intent to understand, not to argue." Or as Covey said, "Seek first to understand, then be understood." One thing about these quotes. If you're busy thinking of your response while the other person is talking, you're not practicing these quotes. Don't do that. Listen to the other person, confirm what you've heard or think you've heard, and then compose your answer. Silence is not your enemy.

Having said all of that, I don't pretend to be a black belt in extreme listening. However, I have dramatically improved my ability to listen by practicing the above.

I'd love to read any other strategies or tactics.

svibanez's picture

I try very hard to focus on listening to the speaker, then composing my reply and follow-on question after they finish. I have recently been told that some find my pause to think (which I think are typically less than 2 seconds) distracting as it interrupts the flow of the conversation.  I've even explained why I do it and that doesn't seem to sit very well with the person who brought it up.

I used to be awful about formulating a response before the other person had even made their point, which is what drove me to learn to focus on their story.  Am I taking the idea of "not thinking about my reply while the other person is talking" too literally?


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GlennR's picture


Would you say your responses have improved your communications effectiveness compared to the times when you didn't pause before responding?

When I was new in my career, I often shot from the lip. Then I came into contact with a co-worker who was a woman of few words. Monica never said much, but what she said had value and she gained people's respect for that. If you ever saw the old commercial, "When EF Hutton speaks, people listen..." that was Monica. I have learned to model her behavior and I am a better communicator as a result.

If you are a more effective communicator because you pause, don't stop.



svibanez's picture


Thank you for your feedback.  I believe my communications have improved significantly over the last few years, thanks mainly to Dale Carnegie and Manager Tools!  I think the pause is just one of several tools that have helped me improve and be more effective at work and at home.

Now I just have to figure out how to close the gap with the person who gets so annoyed by the pause.  As M&M say, I don't have to communicate just like them, I just have to communicate more like them.


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