Communication is not always about talking. Sometimes, better communication happens when one person talks and the other listens. Listening is a more difficult skill to master than it seems at first blush.
When an employee and manager meet for an employee evaluation, the employee may understandably feel on the defensive. He naturally feels that he must defend and explain himself in response to any constructive criticism, but that is actually where communication breaks down.
To get the most out of a meeting in which you are being given feedback for improvement, develop great listening skills with the following three tactics:
1. Bite your tongue, literally if you must. The urge to speak is often strong, but if you want to truly understand what you are being told, stay quiet and let the other person talk. Focus on the other person, and don't half-listen, even if it is difficult to hear what they're saying. By fully taking in the information, you give yourself the opportunity to learn and use the information to improve your job performance.
2. Be alert for things you didn't already know. You may have expected some of the things your boss is telling you, but she might have new information for you. Sometimes people pay more attention to information that is familiar to them. If you want to learn, listen for new information, as well.
3. Write it down after so you don't forget. If you stay quiet and listen, information will be fresh in your mind after the discussion. Jot down new information and any ideas you have for improvement; it will help you remember and apply the new information.
It is a good strategy to ask questions, but only after your boss is finished talking. Interrupting to ask questions might prevent your boss from finishing what she had to say. Learn to listen so you can get the best sense of how your boss perceives your job performance, how to improve, and get ahead at work.
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