Communication, Strategic HR

Can You Hear Me Now? Good! How to Listen in the Workplace

Whether you are an entry-level account executive or the CEO of your firm, one of the most important skills necessary to thrive in the workplace, is to be a good listener. But what does it mean to be a “good” listener and how can you use this skill to excel on the job?


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Growing up in a diverse cultural background, I learned very quickly that everyone has their own way of communicating, both verbally and physically. I use the experiences I’ve had to train my team and have shared the insight below on how to become a better listener in the workplace and throughout your career.

Understanding Various Styles of Both Verbal and Physical Communication

My best advice for becoming a more effective listener is to understand that there are several different types of communication styles, and that the background of the person you are speaking with may be different from your own.

Keep in mind that this includes more than just the words a person is speaking. It’s necessary to pay attention to things like tone, facial expressions, gestures, and posture to fully interpret what a person is saying and how they’re feeling.

Building Relationships with People You Frequently Talk To and Work With

Building meaningful relationships with your colleagues will help you get a grasp on their communication styles and will also help to create a positive work culture. Developing this rapport will not only allow you to learn their approach to communication, but it will also make the communication process more efficient.

At times, you may encounter individuals who are very soft spoken and others who are loud and passionate in their delivery.  You will certainly meet people who like to communicate with their hands and make a lot of movements, some that are very direct, and others who are verbose and may take longer to articulate their message.

Being patient and focusing on the speaker will allow you to better understand the point they are trying to make. While it may be easy to let your mind wander when you are not actively participating in a conversation or presentation, make sure you are constantly checking in with yourself to make sure you are paying attention. This practice will ensure that you don’t miss any information or cause redundancies later on.

Listening to A Complete Message or Thought

Regardless of the speaker’s approach, allow them to completely finish their thoughts before responding. Interrupting could cause them to lose focus and forget important details. Listening to their complete thought will also allow you to digest the whole of what they are saying instead of in fragments. Additionally, if you are speaking about a subject that is sensitive to you, don’t make assumptions and try not to overreact or get easily offended. Listen, comprehend, and respond in a calm manner.

Asking Questions to Illicit the Best Response

If you don’t understand something that was said, you should never leave a conversation with lingering questions.  In order to illicit the best response, be direct with your language and don’t be afraid to rephrase your question if their answer still doesn’t make sense. Remember, no question is a bad question and it’s better to get a clear understanding of the situation now rather than have to revisit the topic later.

After a conversation, meeting, or presentation is over, I’ve found that it’s helpful to recap the conversation either verbally or in writing. This will ensure that you not only listened but understood the message correctly. It also gives the person or group you are speaking with the opportunity to make sure you are in mutual understanding.

Corissa Leong joined Fareportal in 2008 to build a Global Human Resources Department functioning across Fareportal’s numerous office locations. Prior to joining Fareportal, Leong held HR roles in different industries including hospitality, manufacturing, nonprofit, and security. Leong has extensive experience in all aspects of HR, including employee relations, talent management and acquisition, performance management, organization development, HR system, benefits, and compliance.

Leong holds a BS in Labor and Industrial Relations from Penn State University.