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The importance of active listening

Read this article to understand active listening, and to offer some tools for making sure people are heard at work.
an illustration depicting a circle in the centre of the image, inside of which is the figure of a person, circular lines emanate out from this image across the illustration depicting sound waves.
© Conor Rigby - Creative Computing Institute

The need for active listening

It is not enough to simply have different faces within the room. For successful innovation, all voices need to be heard and one size doesn’t always fit all. Often at a team level, someone might have something to say but might not feel empowered to speak.

This can be caused by many things, including the team environment or work culture, which we discussed earlier in the course. Ensuring that all members of your team feel able to speak up and be heard is vital to promoting innovation.

What is active listening?

Truly hearing someone means tangible action based on what they told you, not primitive listening that leads nowhere.

There are several methods you can use to help with this:

  • When a colleague’s point gets either ignored or misunderstood, help clarify or amplify it by circling back to points that were made but ignored. You don’t have to be leading the meeting to do this, but if you notice a point that was ignored and feels confident to do so, you’ll help continue to embed diverse innovation. It helps reinforce the value that all voices are needed and appreciated.
  • If someone who is speaking is interrupted or cut off, speak up about it. By doing this, you’re giving your colleagues a second chance to expand their points and reinforcing the value of having different thoughts and ideas.
  • Let the team prepare for meetings in advance. Doing this helps colleagues who are averse to spontaneity to prepare. It could be as simple as sending an agenda beforehand to set a topic schedule for upcoming meetings.
  • Give people time to think. Some people need time to think before they contribute, so give them the opportunity to do this. Quieter colleagues prefer not to speak in big groups, but find it easier to discuss things with the person next to them
  • Don’t put the responsibility on others. Be mindful in selecting underrepresented people to talk about issues of representation – it’s not their job, and they may not have the power to change things.

If you’d like to learn more about active listening and feeling heard in the workplace, check out the full online course, from the UAL Creative Computing Institute, below.

© Creative Computing Institute
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