Are You Really Listening? How to Build Active Listening Skills

Posted by Practice Management Institute on Jan 12, 2022 11:00:00 AM
Practice Management Institute

The average listener retains only about 50 percent of a conversation. After 48 hours, retention drops to about 25 percent. Everyone working in a healthcare setting, listen up! Poor listening skills can result in relaying incorrect information to a provider or erroneously transcribing information into a patient file. These errors impact the quality of patient care and may even lead to accusations of fraud.

What Is Active Listening & Why Is It So Important

Active listening is giving complete attention to the person that is speaking. The benefits of active listening include better team engagement, responsiveness, empathy, and involvement. Attention to detail is a critical skill for every employee working in a medical office.

Passive listening cuts retention significantly. Multitasking is an ineffective use of time. Our brains cannot process conversations or correctly accomplish tasks when our attention is split. 

Types of Listening

The Non-Listener: This person fakes attention. Their mind has moved on to other things like their agenda for the day, or formulating their response instead of listening to what you are saying. 

The Marginal Listener: This individual also gives the speaker the impression that they are listening. They make eye contact and nod their head, but are distracted, and not fully paying attention. 

The Evaluative Listener: This person actively tries to hear what the speaker is saying but may not understand the speaker’s intent. This type of listener is typically great in semantics, facts, and statistics, but less empathetic and lacks sensitivity and understanding.

The Active Listener: An active listener gives their full attention to the speaker and attempts to see things from his/her point of view by grasping the topic, intent, and feeling of the message.  They seek to understand the context and participate by asking clarifying questions and determining "next steps".

A Few Tips to Actively Listen:

  • Reduce distractions and concentrate on the information and intention. Maintain eye contact and attention on the speaker.
  • Avoid talking over the speaker. Stay on topic when it is your turn. 
  • Let the speaker finish their turn before you respond. One cannot listen and talk simultaneously.
  • Resist the tendency to find quirks in delivery. Ask questions when it's your turn. 
  • Get all the information before responding. Take notes as appropriate. Your memory of the conversation details will fade, and you may miss critical information. 
  • Make an effort to understand the speaker’s point of view and their ideas. Repeat them back to the speaker as appropriate to clarify, acknowledge that you understand, and commit the information to memory. 
  • If the conversation gets heated, keep your emotions in check. A change in mood will hinder the listening process and cloud your ability to process the speaker's intent. 

Harness The Power of Effective Team Communication

Attention! Focus! Two powerful attributes of a high-functioning medical office team that will change your office dynamics for the better. A little practice goes a long way.  

Want more expert advice for better team management? Consider enrolling in this online course:

Management & Leadership for the Medical Office

Topics: medical office manager topics, medical office leadership

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