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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.
Representation Requirements & Tips
Where trade unions are most firmly organized, there are the rights of the people most respected. - Samuel Gompers
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