Project Management

3 Tips to Become a Better Listener as a Project Manager

Communication is tricky ground to cover because most people assume communication is all about how to talk. We’ve seen those movies where a suave salesman seems to squeeze the life savings out of a billionaire by solely the gift of gab. But communication isn’t just talking; you have to be an excellent listener too. In a post for Voices on Project Management, Dave Wakeman gives three tips on how to become a better listener in project management:

  1. Be open and engaged to the feedback of your stakeholders.
  2. Ask questions.
  3. Keep an open mind.

Listen Up

This back-and-forth style of communication particularly applies to your stakeholders. Since they are people invested in your particular project, there needs to be a certain amount of awareness and tact in the conversations you have with them. Quickly dismissing them and shuffling them out the door doesn’t build up stakeholder confidence and damages the relationship you may have with them. Sitting down and being willing to discuss their desires and concerns in respect to what’s being said should be priority number one.

This engagement with stakeholders should also be extended to all other parts of project management. Asking copious amounts of questions can help reveal where your larger problems may lie. Settling for a one-sentence explanation of an issue needs to be avoided.

Wakeman goes on to say this about keeping an open mind when communicating with others:

Your job as a project manager is to harness that expertise and direct it in a manner that enables you and your project to receive the best possible benefit from all these experiences, experts and ideas.

To do that, you need to be open-minded, which means that you have to be careful not to allow your preconceptions overwhelm the information being presented in the conversation. You have to be open to the idea that new information will change the information you already have and the ideas that you have already formed.

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