Harness the Power of Active Listening to Drive Better Results as a BRM
In the busy day-to-day of any BRM, many priorities compete for focus and attention. First, the priorities themselves demand attention, not to mention the innumerable communication channels and processes involved in keeping everyone on the same page.
Active Listening in the Digital Age
Previously, we highlighted how active listening and communication landscapes evolve within the digital age. Some global teams rarely, if ever, have the chance to meet in person. Consequently, we turn to collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, video telepresence conference calls and other tools to “mimic” face-to-face communication.
When a BRM leads or participates in a meeting of colleagues from one or multiple departments, active listening remains critical to their ability to deliver real value to their organizations.
Especially in virtual meetings where body language and facial expressions aren’t apparent, BRMs need to consistently address all three of the primary elements of active listening:
- Comprehension – The listener receives and understands what they are hearing, in the context of who is in the meeting, the issue at hand, and their organization’s goals.
- Retention – The listener captures the speaker’s words by listening mindfully to what they say and by making notes, be they mental, point form, or even meeting minutes to expand on after the meeting.
- Responsiveness – An underestimated, yet essential element of any conversation between two or more people comes through giving verbal or non-verbal feedback to the speaker. This provides the speaker with cues that their audience is paying attention to them and understands. Responses can be a head nod, a question, or even a laugh when appropriate.
More than a “spectator sport”, active listening represents a powerful communication technique that requires a listener to provide feedback to ensure clarity and understanding.
Easy Ways to Practice Active Listening:
- Free your meeting environment of distractions like smartphones and laptops
- Maintain eye contact and respond to non-verbal cues in the conversation by smiling or nodding
- Maintain receptive body language; standing or sitting face-to-face with arms at your sides
- Keep an open mind and look for reasons to support before arguing against what you hear
- Confirm you understand the speaker by occasionally paraphrasing, summarizing, and asking clarifying questions
Active Listening in Agile Organizations
In organizations utilizing agile methodologies in their processes, active listening helps teams drive more effective meetings, including scrums and standups. Effectively, collaborators gather in a quiet space, put electronic devices aside, and actively seek to be focused and present during the meeting.
Never underestimate the power of removing unnecessary distractions while communicating!
BRMs can set an example for their colleagues by staying mindful and attentive during meetings and encouraging others to follow suit. Project roadblocks can cause some team members to come to a meeting with gritted teeth and the need to vent.
By listening attentively, asking clarifying questions, and confirming an understanding both blockers and successes, BRMs help de-escalate tension. Ultimately, this fosters happier people and improved collaboration.
Get at the Human Inside
As relationship navigators, BRMs succeed through connecting with others. If you want to improve efficiency and productivity in your next interaction, ask questions about how the other person is feeling and apply active listening techniques. You may surprise yourself by the transformative results you can achieve from these simple behavior changes.
Active listening is but one of the tools of a high-performing BRM enabling them to be a catalyst of growth and change in their organization.
Lee Iaccoca, the one-time CEO of the Chrysler Corporation, said:
“I only wish I could find an institute that teaches people how to listen. Business people need to listen at least as much as they need to talk. Too many people fail to realize that real communication goes in both directions.”
Although he was not a member of BRM Institute, Mr Iacocca understood the critical value of understanding people through effective communication.
Become a member of the Institute that teaches people how to listen and provides you with practical tools to apply in your daily profession!
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