Sharpen communication between you and your staff members by following these guidelines:
± Really listen; don’t "wait to talk." When employees are speaking, focus on what they’re saying and try to understand their complete meaning. Don’t let your attention wander because you’re thinking about how you’ll respond.
± Be concise. Don’t monopolize the conversation. Get to the point and give employees the chance to share their ideas.
± Keep an open mind. Reserve judgment. Consider all points of view and possibilities before you respond.
± Show respect. Convey your commitment to listening through your body language as well as through your silence. Don’t slouch, fiddle with papers or carry on any side conversations.
± Seek and confirm understanding. When you’re not sure exactly what someone means, ask for clarification. Then, to confirm that you understood, summarize what you heard.
± Appreciate more than one right answer. Each employee brings a different perspective to the discussion. Accept that problems can have more than one solution.
— Reprint permission from: Manager’s Edge, Janelle Brittain, Oakhill Press