How to Effectively Listen to Dissenting Opinions in the Workplace

In today’s workplace, the idea that all employees are going to agree and conform to the norms is simply a figment of the imagination. Realistically, the modern workplace consists of employees from various backgrounds and varying degrees of knowledge which ultimately leads to a variance in opinions. Rather than fight the tendency for employees to voice dissenting opinions, managers should embrace this variation and use it as a tool for positive change. Despite the importance of being open-minded, we seem to be spending less and less time really listening to one another. Active listening, however, is an important tool for building relationships, solving problems, resolving conflicts, and improving efficiency. Here are a few tips to help you develop more effective listening skills in order to handle varying opinions in the workplace. 

Show That You Care

When you care about your employees, they tend to respect you and work harder to exceed your expectations. Employees want to be led by someone who values their opinion and what they have to say. One way to show that you care is by listening carefully when others are expressing their opinions and concerns. Instead of stopping employees when they begin to disagree, allow each person to speak, and share their ideas. Not only can this bring about unique ideas and valuable information, but it shows your employees that you genuinely care about their feelings. 

Encourage Group Discussions

Beyond just listening to your employees, encourage them to participate in group discussions.  Not only is it important for the manager to consider their employee’s opinion, but it is also equally as important for other employees to listen to each other as well. The manager can act as a mediator to ensure the discussion moves forward in a positive direction, but giving team members a healthy opportunity to communicate in an open forum is the first step in developing a team of leaders. 

Be Empathetic

Sometimes dissenting opinions are fueled by the stress and pressure of the workday. Every employee handles stress differently, so it’s important to be empathetic as to how this pressure might affect their opinion. Let your employees know that you hear what they are saying and you understand their perspective and offer ways to help. Empathy is a powerful display that you are actively and effectively listening. 

Never Judge Others

Managers that cast judgment are not listening. All too often managers are quick to criticize those who might take a different approach. However, instead of judging, they should be open to learning from them. When managers judge, they display an inability to embrace differences and this can lead to frustration for employees. Rather, managers should work to actively listen to their employees and be willing to adapt and change when necessary. 

Don’t Interrupt

Nothing is more frustrating than being interrupted before you can finish a thought. Even if you don’t agree, you still owe your employees the respect and courtesy of listening without interruption. In doing so, managers become more compassionate leaders and employees respect a leader that listens.