Wednesday, April 07, 2021 Gerald B. Moore, Workforce Development Team

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Soft skills in the workplace are a set of interpersonal skills used to interact socially with another person on the job.  These skills include clear communication, empathy, translating what your boss or co-workers say and want, problem solving and listening.  Listening is an important soft skill to have in the workplace. Instead of assuming what others are going to say or to prevent yourself from interrupting them while they are trying to articulate something to you, you should strive to actively listen.  

Actively listening means paying attention to body language, facial expressions, and making sure that you are intuitive to what is not being said.  People have an innate need to be valued.  If you are engaged in active listening, your co-workers and your boss will feel that what they say to you has value and matters.  It shows that you are interacting and giving your full attention.  Paying attention to someone makes them feel what they are saying is important to you and you have empathy towards them.

Empathy is a key part of listening.  Have you heard the phrases “they were listening to respond” (meaning the person was not listening to what was being said, they were listening for an opportunity to say what they wanted to say); or “balance the head and the heart” and “mission first, people always”.  If you are achieving what is stated in the latter two phrases, it means you are successfully listening well, you are paying attention to your employees and what goes on with them.  Understanding your boss or your co-workers can sometimes resolve a small issue before it becomes a bigger problem.

Effective listening means you are engaging yourself, getting rid of distractions, and concentrating on the words and body language of the other person.  Simply, you are showing interest in what they have to say.

Here are 3 tips to help you actively and effectively listen:

  1. Resist the urge to interrupt or offer advice immediately
  2. Wait until the other person is finished talking before you respond
  3. Repeat in your own words what your co-worker or your boss has said to you. This will show that you listened and understand the point they are trying to make.

To hone your listening skills, consider borrowing one or more of these digital audiobooks available with your Charleston County Public Library Card from the online streaming service Hoopla:

Listening: The Forgotten Skill by Madelyn Burley-Allen

A self-teaching guide, here's a proven program for turning effective listening into a powerful business tool. Managers and other employees spend more than 40 percent of their time listening to other people but often do it so poorly that the result is misunderstood instructions, misdirected projects, and erroneous actions: millions of dollars' worth of mistakes just because most people don't know how to listen. In this new edition of her classic guide to the art of effective listening, Madelyn Burley-Allen shows you how to acquire active, productive listening skills and put them to work for you professionally, socially, and personally.


Dale Carnegie & Associates’ LISTEN! by Various Authors

Why do we so often fail to connect when speaking with business colleagues, family members, or friends? Wouldn't you like to make yourself heard and understood in all of your relationships? Using vivid examples, easy-to-learn techniques, and practical exercises for becoming a better listener-and making yourself heard and understood, Dale Carnegie will show you how it's done, even in difficult situations. 


Active Listening: Useful Tips to Improve Your Social Skills, Sharpen your Communication Technique by Michael Sanders

Whatever kind of relationship you want to improve, this guide provides you with simple, practical, proven techniques for improving any kind of relationship in your life. It is important to note that the caliber of relationships developed can, to a great extent, determine your overall productivity levels. Going through the listening, you will learn:

• How to improve your listening skills in a simple and stepwise manner
• How to help others become open to your point of view
• How to improve your listening skills even further by developing the skill of active listening
• Provide support and encouragement to others, even when you don't know how to "fix" the problem

Be sure to check out part 2 of this blog series on Listening: An important soft skill for anyone in the workplace. In part 2 of this series, in-depth information on active listening skills along with tips to become a better listener are further explored.

With a little bit of practice and self-patience, you will be ready to take on the next steps in your future career.  If you would like more information about how to apply for jobs online, assistance in finding resources, tips on how to get the job-hunting process started or more, please reach out to us at CCPL by email, chat, or text. Remember, you are not alone.