In any multicultural workplace, institution, classroom, etc., to create a healthy environment, the first priority is to make everyone heard. This is done to ensure that the workplace can be an inclusive environment that can be a melting pot for everyone’s creativity and potential to be harnessed and put to use. You may wonder why active listening is connected to any of this.
Well, to begin with, a key counterpart of being heard is listening. And it is in listening to everyone that creates an environment of inclusivity where all that is expressed is heard without prejudice and eventually there is no space for prejudice and discrimination. Active listening practises encourage people to build meaningful relationships and understand each other’s lived experiences much better than passive listening which is superficial and does not delve beneath surface-level communication.
Active listening also makes the speaker feel included and important as weight is being accorded to their words and the value of their ideas is immediately made visible to them. This boosts morale and encourages contribution. For the listener, active listening as a practice can enable them to stay receptive to new ideas, notice non-verbal language as well and form more holistic perceptions about the people involved and even assist in the elimination of discomfort if this was even latently expressed.
Another benefit that it achieves is it creates a sense of belongingness as through these more meaningful conversations, new bonds can be forged. This sense of feeling connected to one another, as though one belongs with each other in the workplace community is useful not just for a cooperative work environment but also for a productive one! Better cohesion equals more productivity as research has shown countless times.
The list goes on, active listening is a stepping stone to a more inclusive and therefore more productive workplace.