In the process of communication, listening abilities play a critical role in making the communication successful. Communication is a process, which takes place between two or more people where one person transfers information and the second person or a group of people listens to that person and provides the sender with effective feedback. Listening skills play a vital role in every field of life because a person cannot perform any activity properly without having required amount of knowledge regarding that specific activity and that knowledge comes through effective listening.
The thesis statement of this paper is that ‘effective listening plays an important role in making manager-employee communication successful’.
Listening in Manager-Employee Communication
Workplace communication is the delivery and receiving of messages between two or more employees working for any specific company or organization. Listening is also of extreme importance in a manager-employee relationship. It is a fact that listening improves the efficacy of the communication process that in turn improves the manager-employee relationship. Listening in the normal communication process is different from workplace communication because normal communication can take place anywhere between two or more individuals whereas workplace communication is the communication that takes place between managers and employees.
Effective Listening Depends On Relationships and Understanding
I believe that effective listening depends on the type of relationships and the level of understanding that exists between individuals. For example, the communication that takes place between my family and me will be different from the communication that takes place between my manager and me in workplace settings. Level of understanding is also a key towards effective listening. Less understanding results into ineffective communication whereas good understanding, attentiveness, and listening skills result into effective and result-oriented communication. Therefore, we can say that effective communication has a deep association with the level of understanding and listening skills of the people involved in the process of communication. Kern (2010) asserts, “Effective communication helps in that the message is enable to achieve its goals and helps in receiving the desired response from the reader of the message”.
Careful Listening Does Magic
In workplace settings, it is very important for us to listen carefully to the other person because it not only helps us know some unknown facts related to different issues but also makes us aware of other person’s point of view. Turner (2009) states that people sometimes concentrate more on what they have to say instead of listening to the other person with full attention. Knowing the unknown facts may result in changing our own perception about different things. Therefore, it is extremely important to listen to other people carefully while participating in a work related discussion. I believe that listening is the most important element of the process of communication, which makes communication effective and productive.
Importance of Listening Attentively in Workplace Settings
Cooper (1997) states, “Listening is a desirable skill in organizational settings; good listening can improve worker productivity and satisfaction”. From organizational perspective, interpersonal communication needs all employees expressing willingness to listen to the concerns and advices of others. It never happens in communication that one employee is talking and other employees are not listening because it makes communication ineffective and unproductive.
Interpersonal communication needs both manager and employee to listen to each other carefully and attentively. For example, if a manager explains something to an employee, the employee must listen to the manager with full concentration. In a manager-employee relationship, effective communication holds great importance. The real purpose of communication is to share some information with the other person. This process can only be effective if all parties involved in the process of communication understand the importance of effective listening. Willingness to listen to the concerns of others improves the quality of communication, which consequently results in strengthening the manager-employee relationship.
Lewis and Reinsch (1988) state, “Listening is described in organizational settings as an interrelated set of concepts including attentiveness, verbal behavior, non- verbal behavior, attitudes, memory, and behavioral responses”. In case of manager-employee relationship, an employee must be able to listen to the directions of the managers in order to work accordingly. For example, if I am an employee and my manager directs me to perform some specific job activity in some specific manner, I must listen to my manager properly in order to understand his/her directions. I must take every step to avoid confusions and listening properly to the manager is one those steps. Without listening properly, I can never know the way my manager wants me to do something. I may understand what he/she wants me to do but I ca never understand properly the mechanism of doing that activity. Therefore, as an employee, I must listen to every advice ad direction of my manager carefully to avoid ambiguities.
Darling and Dannels (2003) states, “Communication skills such as translation, clarity, negotiation, and listening are vital”. One of the skills, which we should really improve in order to engage in a result-oriented communication process, is the skill of communicating clearly and listening attentively while communicating with a person from some other social or cultural background. We must be able to listen carefully and properly towards the concerns of people from different backgrounds in order to be able to solve their work related problems.
It is important to communicate with other employees expressively using verbal as well as nonverbal communication methods during communication (Billett, 1995). For example, in a workplace setting, a manager must be able to communicate effectively to all employees regardless of their cultures and languages. Employees can have different mother languages. They can be from different cultures. It is the responsibility of the manager to ensure delivery of desired information to all employees in such a way that every employee understanding any language becomes aware of it. Use of easy words and can play an important role in this regard. “The use of difficult or inappropriate words/ poorly explained or misunderstood messages can result in confusion” (Jain, 2008).
Perception about the speaker is one of the basic elements of effective listening because it allows an employee to perceive other individual’s opinion without knowing it. Perception plays an important role in effective listening as it makes us understand the nature of the other person. If we successfully perceive the approach of other people, it makes our communication very effective and result-oriented.
In workplace settings, perception about managers’ behavior plays an important role in the productivity of employees. For example, if I am an employee, I must be aware of my manager’s approach towards work because it will help me become more punctual and productive. To me, listening is one of the most important success factors for an employee. Listening towards the directions of managers and towards other employees while working as a team increases employee productivity and creativity.
Barriers in Effective Listening
While talking about role of listening in workplace environment, let us also discuss some of the barriers, which arise in workplace communication. These barriers prevent the messages from reaching the desired receivers. Some of these barriers include language barrier, physical barrier, and attitudinal barrier. These barriers affect listening, which ultimately affects overall communication process.
Language barrier arises when a language is not understandable by the people involved in communication. For example, if my boss talks to me in a language, which I cannot understand properly, it will affect the communication process because I will not be able to understand the messages. “Inability to converse in a language that is known by both the sender and receiver is the greatest barrier to effective communication” (Pillai, 2010).
If we talk about physical barriers in effective listening, we can say that physical barriers in listening include difference of territories, telephonic mode of conversation between manager and employees, closed office doors, difference of departments, and some other barriers. Physical barrier arises when the persons participating in communication have no physical access to each other. These types of conversations often result in telephonic conversations where all people can interact with each other through telephonic conference. Attitudinal barrier is also one of the main barriers, which affects listening. It arises due to lack of pre-conceived notions, lack of understanding, and lack of trust among participants of the interpersonal interaction. Limitations in mental and physical abilities create a barrier, which adversely affects the opinions and attitudes of the participants.
There also exist two more types of barriers, which affect our listening abilities while at work. One of those barriers is perceptual barrier. This kind of barrier arises when we think that all persons involved in communication think the same way. However, in reality, we all have different mindsets. We do not know the difference and consequently do not give much attention to the differences that exist between the viewpoints of other people and our own viewpoints. In such situation, probability of perceptual barrier becomes high because we are not able to distinguish the difference of perceptions. Another barrier, which affects listening, is interpersonal barrier. This barrier arises when we have lack of knowledge, lack of trust, or lack of respect for some other person to whom we are interacting. These barriers affect the efficacy of interpersonal interactions because effective communication requires willingness to listen to others whether we have personal differences or not.
Some Useful Ways to Improve Listening
Meverson (2005) states, “Poor workplace communication skills will have negative effects on your business relationships and may result in decreased productivity”. Therefore, we need to improve our communication skills, particularly listening abilities, to achieve success in workplace communication. Let us now describe some important ways that we, being employees, can use to improve our listening skills.
– We need to understand that listening is really an opportunity to learn which we should never lose.
– We should not take listening easy. We should listen to other people properly in order to understand the actual scenarios.
– We should concentrate on the behavior and feelings of the speaker during communication to improve our listening skills.
– It is a fact that some of our colleagues in the companies where we work are bad listeners. One of the weaknesses of the bad listeners is that they do not listen to the speaker properly or assume everything before it actually happens and this is the thing, which stops them from improving their listening skills.
– We should not interrupt the speaker because it diverts the attention of both the speaker and the audience.
– We need to show patience during the time the other person speaks.
– We should let the other person state his or her viewpoint before stating our own viewpoint.
– We should also try to improve our creative skills instead of paraphrasing other person’s sentences.
These were some of the ways using which we can improve our listening abilities and can play valuable role in strengthening our relationships with the managers. Manager-employee relationship needs trust, respect, and mutual understanding for proper development and sustainability. Effective listening can play a considerable role in strengthening manager-employee relationship. Therefore, being employees, we should improve our listening skills as much as possible not only to maintain good relationships with our managers and colleagues but also to achieve success in our professional careers.
Summing it up, effective listening plays an important role in making manager-employee communication successful. From organizational perspective, interpersonal communication needs all employees to show willingness to listen to the directions of managers. In workplace settings, effective listening holds great importance because it makes communication between managers and employees productive and result-oriented. Both managers and employees need to listen to each other carefully in order to make communication process successful.
Billett, S. (1995). Workplace learning: its potential and limitations. Education + Training, 37(5), 20-27.
Cooper, L. (1997). Listening Competency in the Workplace: A Model for Training. Business Communication Quarterly, 60(4), 75-84.
Darling, A., & Dannels, D. (2003). Practicing Engineers Talk about the Importance of Talk: A Report on the Role of Oral Communication in the Workplace. Communication Education, 52(1), 1-16.
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Lewis, M. & Reinsch, N. (1988). Listening in Organizational Environments. Journal of Business Communication, 25(3), 49-67.
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Turner, J. (2009). How to Build Effective Communication Skills. Retrieved from http://www.articlesbase.com/ask-an-expert-articles/how-to-build-effective-communication-skills-780532.html