There are many, many reasons why it is important to be a good listener, including:
- Helps get facts from a member, who has a grievance.
- Helps in figuring out management's position so you can counter it.
- Helps members let off steam so they can try to solve problem.
- Shows you are sympathetic and concerned about each member.
- Helps to get to bottom of an issue and find out what is really bothering a member.
- Helps members to talk about the problem and perhaps work out an answer.
A Few Ways to Be a Good Listener
- DON'T TALK
You can't listen while you're talking.
- DON'T INTERRUPT
Give the person a chance to say what is on his/her mind; BE PATIENT.
- DON'T SECOND GUESS
Don't assume you know what the speaker is going to say before it is said; don't put words in the speaker's mouth. You might be wrong.
- BE SYMPATHETIC
Don't ridicule or put the speaker down; try to see what the speaker is getting at; show concern for the problem, and the person.
- MAKE THE SPEAKER FEEL COMFORTABLE
Sit down with the person; don't fiddle; look the person in the eye; help person to relax.
- ASK QUESTIONS
Use an encouraging tone; ask questions which will encourage the person to explain more, not questions which can only be answered with a yes or no.
- DON'T LECTURE
Don't give advice or provide answers before person has had a chance to explain the situation.
- LET THE SPEAKER WORK OUT THE ANSWER
Often a person will "think-out loud" and end up figuring out their answer, or cooling down enough to be more rational. If you are a good sounding board, it will help the member, you and the union.