Have you ever had a conversation with someone who wouldn’t maintain eye contact with you? Or who grunted at inappropriate pauses, nodded at seemingly random moments, or interrupted you halfway through a thought?
I will be the first to admit that I have many pet peeves. But when someone doesn’t actively listen or cue properly during a conversation, I am quick to lose interest in the conversation.
Active listening is a critical part of communication. Listening helps you build genuine and honest relationships. It motivates the person you’re communicating with and entices them to collaborate with you.
Active listening makes the person you’re conversing with feel like you genuinely care about the words they are saying and the thoughts they are sharing.
Growing up, my dad was known as the guy who put his proverbial foot in his mouth. He misspoke and was misunderstood at every turn, despite having the best intentions.
As a result, I’ve always been very cautious about how I listen and respond during a conversation. It may be a big part of why I became a writer and editor.
Active listening requires three steps:
- Focus entirely on the speaker,
- understand their message,
- and comprehend the information.
A few weeks ago, I had a meeting with a senior-level colleague. He had a lot to cover, and I did my best to listen actively. Midway through our conversation, he stopped and asked me, “I want to make sure I didn’t misspeak. What did you hear me say?”
This question caught me off guard. As someone who prioritizes listening, I appreciated that he valued my comprehension of his communication. I distilled his points down and laid them back out for him. Then we moved on.
Good teams communicate well and often. Great teams share ideas, ask for feedback, have healthy conflicts, actively listen to one another and check for comprehension. We may disagree, but we know how to work through our differences because we fully understand one another’s side.
Life is busy. Kitchens are even busier. As a leader of your operation, you cannot allow listening to your cooks and colleagues to become a secondary priority. Take their communication seriously and you will set your culinary operation up for success.
Being intentional about strong communication makes all the difference.