Attending and listening to the employee is critical to building an intimate and trusting relationship with a employee. Attend and listen are defined as follows:
- To be present
- To take care; give attention
- To apply or direct oneself
- To pay attention
- To remain ready to serve; wait
- To make an effort to hear something
- To pay attention; heed
- The act of hearing attentively
Fundamentals of Attending and Listening
Be Alert. Focused listening requires attention and alertness to everything that is going on in the employee engagement.
Ask Probing Questions. Use appropriate questioning techniques to seek out specific information.
Test their Understanding. Employees differ in their ability to get their meaning across.
Avoid Typical Pitfalls of Listening. Hear not only the words, but the emotions behind the words. Hear what is not being said.
Types of Attending
Psychological attending refers to Managers sensing experiences through the eyes of the employee instead of their own, and being sensitive to employee feelings and experiences. It consists of both perceiving and processing various employee messages (McCarthy Veach, Bartels and LeRoy 2003).
- Put aside personal distractions, worries, and self-concerns to give center stage to the employee’s story
- Psychological attending requires both discipline and flexibility
- Be in tune with both verbal and nonverbal messages
Physical attending refers to the physical posture that the practitioner uses with employees to put them at ease and prepare them for the activities ahead. When thinking about physical attending, remember PRESENCE.
|P||posture (sit squarely)|
|E||engage by leaning forward|
|E||expressive nuances of culture|
Source: Interviewing in Action: Relationship, Process and Change, p. 56
Levels of Listening
There are three levels of listening: (1) non-listener, (2) passive, and (3) active. Managers need to understand the levels so that they can recognize which level they are engaged in with employees and adjust accordingly. Managers should always be active listeners as it reinforces their commitment to the employee and the discipline.
The non-listener displays the following tendencies while listening.
- Tunes in and tunes out
- Is somewhat aware of others, but mainly pays attention to self and own thoughts
- Follows the discussion only enough to get a chance to talk
- Listens but is quiet, passive, and unresponsive
- Often fakes attention while thinking about unrelated matters, forming rebuttals, or preparing what he or she wants to say next
- Displays aloofness in a blank stare or detached posture
The passive listener displays the following tendencies while listening.
- Hears words but does not really listen
- Stays at the surface of the communication and do not understand the deeper significance of what is being said
- Hears the words but does not make many attempts to understand or to empathize with the employee’s intention
- Tends to listen logically and is more concerned with content than feeling; remains emotionally detached
- Receives information as though being talked to rather than being an equal partner in the process
- Risks dangerous misunderstandings due to insufficient communication
- May give employees a false sense of being listened to and understood
The active—or empathetic—listener displays the following tendencies. Table 2.4 outlines various active listening techniques.
- Gives full attention to listening when employee is talking and focuses on what is being said
- Views communication as an opportunity to gather new and useful information; refrains from being distracted, and is fully engaged and alert
- Pays attention to nonverbal cues and exercises much direct eye contact
- Evinces attention through posture or stance
- Knows that specific words mean different things to different people; seeks to understand the intended message
- Strives to see things from the employee’s point of view
- Aware of personal biases and attitudes; suspends own thoughts and feelings to give attention solely to listening
- Becomes directly involved in the communication process and will often restate or paraphrase the message to confirm comprehension
- Gives feedback to employees concerning the clarity and accuracy of their message; develops a deeper appreciation of what employees are thinking and feeling
- Encourages an authentic dialogue in which both accuracy and mutual validation are achieved
- Listens to the inner voice, giving insight into the employee’s words and heart, and direction on how to respond
Table 2.4 Active Listening Techniques
|Technique||Description||Example (Employee)||Example (MANAGER)|
|Parroting||Occasionally repeating verbatim what the other person is saying||I’m not sure what I want to do with my career.||You are not sure what you want to do with your career.|
|Open-ended Questions||Asking questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”; beginning questions with who, what, when, where or why||Why did you choose this career?|
|Probing||Eliciting more specific information and thoughtful, reflective responses||What do you think the impact of your actions is on others?|
|Paraphrasing||Restating the employees’ words to confirm comprehension of the situation and to help employees consider whether their words are a true reflection of their feelings and perspectives||I’ve been thinking about entering the field of marketing, but I’m not sure if I have the right skills to make a successful transition.||You would like to explore your skills to see if you can get into marketing.|
|Reflection of Feeling||Responding to the feelings instead of the content of what the person is saying||I’ve been thinking about entering the field of marketing, but I’m not sure if I have the right skills to make a successful transition.||Can you tell me about what worries you the most about your skills?|
Managers need to be careful when they hear and be cautious of several items, including:
- Lack of knowledge
- Lack of experience
- Cultural bias
- Defensive filters