Empowering Managers with Mental Health Training: The Art of Deep Listening

“This is the problem with dealing with someone who is actually a good listener. They don’t jump in on your sentences, saving you from actually finishing them, or talk over you, allowing what you do manage to get out to be lost or altered in transit. Instead, they wait, so you have to keep going.”

― Sarah Dessen

Effective communication is a cornerstone of strong leadership, particularly in fostering a supportive work environment. As Mental Health Awareness Month approaches, it’s crucial to focus on a key component often overlooked: the power of listening. Mental health training for managers emphasises not just problem-solving skills but the profound impact of deep listening on employee wellbeing.

The Challenge of Being a Good Listener

In a world where everyone wants to be heard, truly effective listening is rare. Sarah Dessen’s observation highlights a paradox: the better listener you are, the more you realise how challenging it can be to genuinely listen without interrupting, stealing the conversation, or planning your next response.

Unfortunately, many fall into these common traps:

People think they are listening but instead, they are doing one of the following…

1. Interrupting to share one’s own perspective: Waiting for the other person to pause or take a breath so they can jump in and say what they want to say – as Stephen Covey describes “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

2. Dominating conversations: These people are what I fondly refer to as conversation hogs.  They jump in and ‘steal’ the conversation and make it all about them.  It’s generally at this point the other person silently thinks ‘why do I bother telling them anything, they never listen‘.

3. Talking over other: These people don’t even wait for you to finish speaking, they simply start talking over you, demonstrating a lack of patience and respect.

4. Partial attention: Whether that’s looking at their phone, checking their emails, or emptying the dishwasher. You don’t have their full attention.

5. Overusing affirmations: ‘Yes, yes yes’. As you are speaking, these people, perhaps in an attempt to demonstrate that they are listening, keep repeating the word ‘Yes’, or ‘Yep’ or something along those lines. Used too much, this attempt to indicate listening can seem disingenuous.

6. Assuming feelings or thoughts: ‘You must feel/think _______’. These people tell us what we think or feel without seeking true understanding.

7. Finishing sentences for someone: These people butt in and finish the sentence for you and more often than not, they don’t say what you were actually going to say.

These behaviors not only hinder communication but can exacerbate feelings of isolation or misunderstanding among employees, contributing to workplace dissatisfaction and mental health issues.

Mental Health Training for Managers: Deep Listening as a Tool

Our Mental Health Training for Managers dedicates a significant portion to cultivating the skill of deep listening. Recognising the crucial link between listening and impactful leadership, this training aims to transform managers into conduits of positive change within their teams.

Deep listening extends beyond the act of hearing words; it involves fully immersing oneself in the speaker’s world, understanding their perspective, emotions, and unspoken messages. It’s about creating a space where employees feel genuinely seen and heard, which can profoundly affect their mental health and workplace engagement.

Implementing Deep Listening in the Workplace

  1. Pause Before Responding: Encourage managers to take a moment before jumping into conversations, allowing space for the employees’s message to resonate fully.
  2. Practice Full Presence: Managers should be fully present during conversations, avoiding distractions to signal respect and interest.
  3. Seek to Understand: Before offering solutions or advice, managers can ask questions to delve deeper into the employee’s experience, fostering a culture of empathy and support.
  4. Acknowledge Without Assuming: Validation of feelings and experiences is key, without overlaying one’s own interpretations or solutions prematurely.

The Impact of Deep Listening

Adopting deep listening can dramatically improve workplace relationships, reduce conflicts, and enhance team cohesion. Employees who feel genuinely listened to are more likely to feel valued and understood, reducing the risk of mental health struggles and increasing engagement and productivity.

Join Us in Transforming Managerial Approaches

As we gear up for Mental Health Awareness Month, we invite organisations to explore our Mental Health Training for Managers. By prioritising deep listening, we can foster a workplace environment where every employee feels supported, understood, and valued. Discover the transformative power of deep listening and its potential to increase your impact by 1000%. Embrace the challenge, and watch as your leadership and workplace transform for the better.

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