HAS this ever happened to you — you speak to your boss or a colleague, a friend or even someone in your family, and you feel they are not listening?

How does that make you feel? Not very good, I suspect.

When I bring this up in a team motivation seminar, some managers start to feel a little bit uncomfortable.

If you want to motivate and have a good relationship with the people in your team, your customers, colleagues, friends and family, then you need to be a good listener.

You need to look and sound like you are listening.

In a face-to-face conversation, you need to look interested, nod your head and keep good eye contact.

Over the phone, you need to say the occasional “Uh-huh, I see”.

I have seen managers, when faced with a problem from a team member, start to do something else, like work on the computer.

I have also heard managers say: “It’s okay, I can do two things at once. I can listen to you and work on the computer.”

Maybe you can, but the message your team member gets is: “My problem isn’t that important, my manager just isn’t interested.”

Here are some ways to help you be a better motivator:

Give your full attention

When you are spending time with people, you need to give them your full attention. You need to look them in the eye, concentrate on them and make them feel that what they say is important and deserves your attention.

Write things down

As well as looking interested in your team member’s or your customer’s problem, it is a good idea to write it down.

I have fallen into the trap of thinking, “I’ll remember that when I get back to the office and I’ll check on it.”

However, one person I was with said: “You won’t do anything about what I’ve said, Alan, because you won’t remember it.”

From that point on, I wrote things down.

Recall

It is also a good idea to paraphrase — to repeat back what the person has said — to ensure your understanding and let him know you have been listening intently to what he is saying.

Use names

It may seem like a simple thing but it is very important to use a person’s name.

You could say in response to a problem from a team member: “I’ll speak to the accounts department about that.”

But it is far better to say: “I’ll speak to the accounts department about that, Susan. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.”

That is a much better way for a motivating manager to act.

Saying a person’s name is one of the warmest sounds he hears. It says: “I recognise you as an individual.”

But don’t overdo it, as it may come across as patronising.

Here is some food for thought: Many people believe that to be a good motivator, you need to be a good speaker, when in fact, you need to be a great listener.