With globalization and the growth of the global economy, the workforce is becoming increasingly multicultural, thus necessitating the interaction of bosses, supervisors, and colleagues with international stakeholders. Due to this increase in global relations, the utilization of suitable communication skills, specifically active listening, is fundamental for the success of these international relations.
Miscommunication, which is anticipated in situations of multicultural communication, can lead to unnecessary conflicts, wasting valuable time and energy. One way in which miscommunication can be avoided is through the practice of active listening. Embedding an active and full listening experience into mainstream leadership and practice greatly increases effective communication.
In order for a leader to engage in effective communication, s/he must possess the ability to practice active listening. Listening actively and attentively, while paying attention to verbal and non-verbal language should be the primary objective of a leader. Active listening is a somewhat challenging habit to form. It requires the complete immersion into the conversation and a focus on what the speaker is saying while ignoring any external or internal distractions e.g. the listener’s own thoughts or possible responses. Active listeners do not interrupt speakers, they give the speaker time to conclude their thoughts, and they engage in verbal and non-verbal signs that indicate that they are listening (e.g. smiling, nodding, etc.). Reflecting and paraphrasing what the speaker is saying is also an important aspect of active listening and can serve to verify that the listener understood the speaker correctly.
Moreover, providing constructive feedback allows a conversation to turn into a collaboration, through which a deeper mutual understanding can be attained. With this, one can positively influence the direction, dynamic, and depth of a conversation. Active listening has influential effects, helping the speaker to feel more motivated and comfortable enough to voice their opinions and speak their mind.
The manner in which an employee behaviors, is often an emulation of what their managers and leaders model in terms of their behavior and communication style. A leader that demonstrates the utilization of an active listening style and an empathetic tone with customers sets the standards to which employees must adhere to.
Proper understanding, coupled with appropriate responses and feedback, help to influence the direction and outcome of a conversation. Business men and women who engage in active listening increase the quality and effectiveness in their dealings and collaborations with various stakeholders.