Are You Teaching Your Employees to Use ‘360 Listening?’

BY Kathy Crosett
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Most people would agree we’re living in an increasingly uncivil society. More employees and managers don’t see the need to listen to anyone who may have a different or unique point of view. Employees often take their behavioral cues in the workplace from their managers. If you’ve been in the habit of shutting down dissenters, your attitude is a great disservice to your team and your company.

Earlier this month, Shawn Andrews wrote about the huge connection between emotional intelligence (EQ) and a business’s bottom line. Listening comprises a huge part of EQ. Andrews refers readers to the work of Melissa Daimler, a previous Head of Learning and Organizational Development at Twitter. Daimler coined the ‘360 listening’ phrase in her Harvard Business Review article.

Specifically, Daimler encourages managers to help their employees use all of their senses when listening to each other. It’s all too easy to decide that the HR staffer sitting across the table from you is the enemy. After all, they are refusing to make an offer to the prospect you want to hire. If you only listen to the words spoken by the HR staffer, you’re likely to focus on the negative. That's where disrespect and a bad attitude often starts.

To increase your EQ, pay attention to the tone the HR staffer has when they explain that the prospect won’t negotiate on their high salary demands. Does the HR person sound frustrated? Does it seem like they wish there was a better outcome? If that’s the case, you don’t need to shoot the messenger by making a rude remark and starting a cycle of negativity.

Daimler also suggests managers train their employees to notice physical mannerisms during a conversation or negotiation. For example, if the other person is tearing a napkin to pieces while they're talking, they may be stressed. Consider rescheduling the negotiation for another time.

The details people leave out of a conversation can be particularly important. During your one-​on-​one with a staff member, listen for what they don’t say. If they never mention their progress on a specific project, it may be because they’re having trouble understanding exactly what you want. Or, they may not enjoy that kind of work. 

Set a good EQ example by listening to all of the ways your employees are communicating with you. To help employees boost their own EQ, talk with them about how increasing their '360 listening' skills contributes to a positive work culture and a better bottom line.