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Archive for improve listening skills

Communication Leadership Skills

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

“The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.”   ~Tony Robbins

During my seminars on Communication Leadership Skills, I am often told that communicating effectively with certain employees can be challenging. The manager’s message — even when given in a clear, concise and straightforward manner — can sometimes be misconstrued. Great managers and leaders need their message to be understood the first time. Achieving this type of clarity takes specific communication leadership skills that need to be developed and refined. While one style of communication will not fit everyone, these basic principles will provide a solid foundation for communication leadership skills that are needed to achieve ultimate success!

Listen Before You Communicate

Listening and communicating can perfectly complement each other if both skills are respected. Your message will be lost if all you do is talk at someone versus listening first to how they process information. If someone needs details in order to understand your message then share more information with them. If they are more of a bottom line type of person then edit yourself. If you are speaking to a large group then implement a medium tactic. Your employees will tend to listen more to you if you first listen to how they receive your information. By tailoring your approach you have a better chance of the information being retained versus misunderstood.

Show Empathy to Endear Your Listeners

Communication leadership skills cannot be effective without empathy. If you communicate your message that demonstrates you want to achieve understanding for a better workplace, your employees will appreciate your efforts. For example, if your employees are having a difficult time implementing a new process offer them your guidance and experience instead of mandates. While deadlines are important, you’ll have a better chance of meeting your goals if you empower your employees to find viable solutions. Communication leadership skills means taking the time to discuss the issues, finding the best solutions and working together toward successful results.

Take Out the Guesswork When You Communicate

Both managers and employees feel better when they know exactly what is being communicated. Having good communication leadership skills means you are saying precisely what you mean and it cannot be interpreted differently than the way you initially intended. This is achieved by giving clear work instructions when you delegate projects and not expecting your employees to read your mind. Realize that when you don’t include crucial information your vision can be compromised. Write out key points and give everyone the same information. That way you’ll have a quick reference in case a team member gets off track in the middle of your project.

Show Appreciation When Your Message is Heard

When employees really listen to the nuances of  your message that’s when you’ll know that your communication leadership skills have worked. Big ideas and key messages are easier to grasp, but the details can sometimes be lost, and the employees that pay attention to the entire message should be appreciated for their efforts. For example, if you tell your employees that you want to research a particular client and would like to know more about their recent mergers, some staff might see that as an opportunity to go beyond what is expected and give you a detailed report. When these occasions occur, make sure to point out this extra effort to the rest of the team by publicly thanking them. Not only will this encourage those employees to repeat their success, but also encourage others to strive for the same type of success as well.

Listening before you communicate, showing empathy, taking out communication guesswork and appreciating your employees who fully implement your message will always make your communication leadership skills shine!

About Colleen Kettenhofen, Leadership Expert, Motivational Speaker

An internationally recognized award-winning speaker, Colleen Kettenhofen is the author of the book, Secrets Your Boss Isn’t Telling You, as well as 10 unique audio programs available at

A Portland, Oregon-based motivational speaker, Colleen has delivered more than 1,100 fun and entertaining programs before thousands in 48 states and six countries. She has served as a keynote speaker for conferences, corporate meetings, associations, Native-American tribes, and non-profits. Colleen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions, and seminars by calling (971)212-0479.

8 Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.
~ Doug Larson

The benefits of good communication in any relationship, professional or personal, are many and varied. First and foremost, communication is the cornerstone to every good relationship. Good communication, however, isn’t just about sharing your ideas with others, it’s often said to be 99% listening and 1% talking. Following are eight ways you can improve your listening skills.

  1. Two ears – One mouth. There’s a reason why you were born with two ears and one mouth. You should be listening at least twice as much as you’re talking. If you find yourself monopolizing a conversation, ask questions of the other person. Get their feedback and thoughts.

  2. Be an active listener. When the other person is talking, ask questions to clarify the information they’re sharing with you. This way you’ll make sure you understand exactly what they’re saying, and there are no misunderstandings.

  3. Step into their shoes. When listening to someone, try to see their thoughts from their point of view. Even if you don’t agree with their viewpoint, try to at least understand how they could feel the way they do, and how their feelings affect their thoughts and actions.

  4. Stay in the moment. When listening, don’t spend the time thinking about how you’re going to answer or what you’re going to say next. Focus on the speaker and the message they’re conveying at that moment.

  5. Stay focused. Today, we’re “connected” more than ever before. Don’t let e-mails, texts or phone calls distract you while another person is talking. Turn off your cell phone. Close your e-mail program. Have your calls held. Those things will still be there when you’re done communicating with the person in front of you.

  6. Take notes. In some communication situations, taking notes can both help you clarify what the other person is communicating, but also can provide you with a written record to refer back to later. Allow the speaker to see and comment on the notes you’re taking, to ensure you’re notes are accurate.

  7. Stay on track. Communication is fluid – organic. Therefore, it’s not uncommon that while someone is speaking about one topic, it leads you to think of another (sometimes unrelated) topic you’d also like to discuss. Don’t change the subject until the other person has fully expressed themselves and you both are on the same page about the information shared. If you need to, jot down a note about the ancillary topic you’d like to discuss next and then refocus on the topic at hand.

  8. Don’t jump to conclusions. You may feel like you know what the other person is going to say, but in reality, they may surprise you. Don’t let your expectations about what the message will be bias your listening. Approach every communication with an open mind!

About Colleen Kettenhofen, Leadership Expert

CREDENTIALS: Colleen Kettenhofen is an international workplace and employee management expert, award-winning corporate trainer, and conference keynote speaker. A media veteran, she has appeared on numerous radio shows around the country and has written more than 40 popular articles on diverse workplace issues. Colleen has delivered more than 1,100 entertaining programs in 48 states and five countries. She is the author of 10 published audio programs and two books including SECRETS YOUR BOSS ISN’T TELLING YOU.

 Colleen Kettenhofen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions, and seminars by calling (623)340-7690.