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How Well Do You Listen?

Successful facility managers are good listeners. Learn these seven steps of active listening to improve your skills

In the movie “Pulp Fiction,” Uma Thurman’s character Mia asks Vincent Vega, played by John Travolta, “When in conversation, do you listen, or do you just wait to talk?” Vincent thinks about it and then responds, “I have to admit that I wait to talk, but I'm trying harder to listen.”

This scene illustrates one of the most overlooked, yet important, traits of a great facility manager: the ability to listen.

Most facility managers will say, “Sure, I listen,” but do they really? Active listening skills, when given the appropriate attention to learning and practicing, can greatly improve a facility manager’s customer service and level of respect from staff, as well as help fully understand complex issues.

A great FM will always listen more than he or she talks. Most people want to be heard, and many people have their own ego that facility managers must deal with and manage. This is where active listening skills can help.

Active listening is a technique of careful listening and observation of nonverbal cues, with feedback in the form of accurate paraphrasing that is used in counseling, training, and solving disputes or conflicts. Facility managers must wear many hats — even the hat of counselor, trainer, and mediator. That is why active listening skills are particularly relevant.

Active listening includes seven components: neutrality, patience, feedback, questioning, reflection, clarification, and summarization.

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