Listening is Key to a Respectful Work Environment
By Ji Hyun Lee
It may be hard to believe but something as basic as listening could just be the answer to creating a supportive and respectful work environment.
At work, many people spend a great deal of time talking and wanting to be heard. Some of us are on the phone all day. Others make a career out of giving presentations at conferences. The talkers often expect to be heard. And what happens when they’re ignored?
Most often, people who are not being heard, or listened to will talk even more. Sometimes they will even shout just so that they can make themselves heard. Children often exhibit this behavior when their parents are too busy to pay attention to them. You’ll notice that they stop crying and screaming when they get the attention they need.
The reason why this happens is that human beings require a two-way conversation in order to achieve a meaningful relationship. It has nothing to do with acting like an infant. People talking without listening are often at the root of a volatile workplace dynamic whereas a happy workforce is all about good relationships. How many marriages have ended as a result of spouses not listening to what the other has to say?
Whether you’re a boss or subordinate, all anyone wants is a few minutes to be heard and listened to. Co-workers may approach others if they sense that their troubles are not being heard. They may approach a boss or their human resource department if they feel the conflicts escalating. If bosses feel ignored, they too will act in ways that could potentially create discord in the workplace.
The key to a thriving workforce absolutely depends on employees taking turns listening to one another. It doesn’t always mean you have to agree but just the act of listening makes people feel valued and an important member of the team.
So the next time you’re in a meeting in which a colleague has something to say listen and advise accordingly. Without a doubt, they will reciprocate and isn’t this what a meaningful relationship is all about?