What Is More Important For A Manager: Speaking Accurately Or Listening Actively?

What Is More Important For A Manager: Speaking Accurately Or Listening Actively?

Speaking accurately means being able to use the correct words when speaking for communication to be effective.  But effective communication is not a one-way process.  It needs, at least, someone to give the message and someone to receive it.  Demonstrating active listening shows the speaker that the message is being received and understood.  So, speaking accurately is essential, but listening actively is more critical.

Why is Active Listening Important?

A good manager knows the importance and benefits of being an active listener. There is nothing worse than a manager who fails to listen to employees’ general concerns, ideas, and opinions. When employees realize the manager is not interested in listening, they become disengaged.

Employees are resources and high assets you have in your workplace. So managers have to do more listening than talking to maximize the benefit from them.  

In the right working environment, employees, particularly junior staff, are always encouraged to speak up more to establish meaningful two-way communication with the managers.   

Effective communication is not about speaking accurately or transmit-only conversation.  It is about listening with the intent to understand before seeking to be understood.

Also Read: 9 Best Ways of Dealing with Angry Managers

People in the workplace always want to learn about the performance of the business.  It has been my experience that they want to learn directly from someone to whom they report.  

They also prefer to receive information face to face – from a manager who can speak accurately.  That allows for interaction and a chance to close the communication loop.  

Many managers use jargon or broad words to make themselves sound smarter.   They assume their employees shares the same meaning of general words like; mission statement, vision, customer-centricity, bottom line, excellence, value and many more.  Those are words that can mean anything to anyone.  Using such phrases often creates confusion and misconceptions in the workplace.  

When you use platitudes, the employee will nod in agreement but will not bother to ask for clarification for fear making themselves look stupid in front of the manager and end up developing their interpretations, different from that of the managers.   

That should not happen if managers take the time to speak with clarity so that everyone understands what they mean.

Also, it is necessary to find out whether your employees understand what you are saying and the words you are using.  Because if people don’t get everything you say to them, your message will not be received the way you want.  

Whenever there is only one-way communication, employees do not have the opportunity to question what their managers say to them. That means there is no chance to correct any misconceptions or misconstrued information.

Barriers to Active Listening

Many managers who speak accurately can also bullshit skilfully.  There are managers out there who can effectively manipulate employees because they are not diligent about facts.  And they do not seek to understand the effect of their bullshitting. 

Even when they try, they end up pretending to be listening – but they are using their silence to prepare what to say next.  In other words, they do not listen with the intent to understand; they look on preparing to reply.

Read also: How to Say Goodbye to Bad Management

Listening Actively 

Active listening is incredibly tricky for many of us.  You must be entirely grounded in yourself and have ethical emotional and physical boundaries.  But listening is a skill which you can learn by following the tips below:

Listen unconditionally – First, make yourself unconditionally available for your staff to tell all their challenges, mistakes, and fears.  These are things you do not know but will be useful if you know them. 

Once they start talking, do not be judgemental.  Do not use your body language to contradict, or showing any disagreement.

Resist assumptions – Resist the urge to trip off in your mind, looking for comparisons or making assumptions.  Just focus on what they’re saying.  And show that whatever they are saying is important to you.  

Don not interrupt – Make sure you understand what the person says, and do not interrupt. Wait until they come to a natural break. Then ask clarifying questions. You can ask the person to repeat the message.  Avoid questions that start with “Why don’t you.?” or “Why did not you?” 

Paraphrase to confirm understanding – You can also paraphrase, restating the words to verify whether your understanding is correct. First, listen carefully. Then give a summary of what you have heard. 

But do not repeat the same words the person has used.  If your paraphrasing is not right, your staff will notice it and correct you.

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