Do You Know: The Importance of Active Listening

As teams work together, one of the most important skills for members is listening. Too often, this is a very underutilized tool.

I had a colleague who described listening as the time you spend trying to figure out what you are going to say while the other person is talking. We plan our arguments because we believe that is how we can be certain we will prevail. We must convince the other party that we are right, and we give little thought to what the other party is saying. Of course, it is likely they are also not listening when we try to make our points.

If we do not listen carefully to the other party, we miss out on an opportunity to learn from what they are saying. We do not hear information we need, and as a result we act on our assumptions rather than reality. When we fail to acknowledge the ideas of others by not listening, it damages the relationship between the parties. As a result, we lose the opportunity to develop the best possible solution to the problems on which we work.

CALMC urges our clients to use active listening skills in dealing with others. I know the term has been around for a while, but the concept is important,

We can demonstrate active listening in a variety of fairly easy ways. After the other party has had an opportunity to speak, we can repeat to them what we understood them to say. In doing so we let them know we did listen to what they were saying, and we also have the opportunity to check our understandings.

We can also ask questions about what the person has said. We can seek additional information, try to determine what interests underlie their positions, check assumptions they have made, and acknowledge what was said.

Controlling body language and responses to the other party is also part of active listening. We want to show the other party we really want to hear what they have to say. If we stare off into space or sit with a closed posture, it hurts the listening process.

The more we can learn about the interests of the other parties as team work helps us to develop better solutions to the problems we face. We have the opportunity to acknowledge their needs while ensuring our own interests are also represented in the solutions we develop.

Do your teams need help with their listening skills? CALMC can help. Just contact us and we can talk about your team. We will be listening.

About CALMC Blog

Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to involving employers and employees to preserve jobs, resolve workplace issues, and promote labor-management cooperation. Visit our website at
This entry was posted in CALMC, Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee, Communications, Conflict Resolution, Employee Involvement, Facilitation, Labor-Management Committees, Labor-Management Cooperation, Teamwork and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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