As an HR professional, you are coached to work on your active listening skills. You coach leaders to listen and practice empathy. How many articles have you read that state how listening is the most important element of communication? They say your relationships will improve only when you tune out your inner-voices and truly listen to the person doing the talking. Much of your HR role demands that you have superb listening skills to be effective. As a great active listener, do you have a person who will be that great listener for you? With all of this listening, it is important to find someone who will be there for you and listen when you need it.
Trying to be an active listener is exhausting. Everywhere you turn, someone is preaching about the importance of listening. I’m pursing my coaching certification and even wrote about the different levels of listening and the importance of listening at a Level II. In personal relationships, experts encourage you to be the perfect listener, refrain from problem-solving, and just be there to hear someone.
Many HR roles are a department of one. You are the benefits, compensation, legal, recruiting, and employee relations department all rolled into one. That’s a lot of listening to solutioners, experts, know-it-alls, and those who are either married to, or have a friend that practices, law or HR. Completely made-up statistics say that 87 percent of an HR person’s day is spent listening to people who think they know your job better than you. And they have no problem letting you know.
Spending your whole day in listening mode requires you to find someone who is willing to listen to you. And that bottle of chardonnay or ice-cold IPA doesn’t count. Having a person, or group of people, to talk to or just to be a sounding board, is critical to keep the stress levels low and keep your mind healthy. There are times when you just want to turn off the “professional” and share a success story, vent about an issue, or tell a joke, without an interruption. You just want someone to listen to you at a Level II. You spend your whole day in listening mode and deserve to be listened to from time to time.
Make sure you have someone you can count on to be a listener for you. Whether it’s your spouse, friend, co-worker, or bus driver, make sure there is a good foundation of trust. Be intentional about your time and conversations and set parameters. It’s ok to say that you just need 5 minutes to share/vent/brag without judgement or interruption. And make sure you offer the same amount of time and listening in return.
HR is a very rewarding and fun career. Don’t always believe what you hear about the profession. Like many others, it can also be stressful and draining. Just like we recommend our employees take care or stop by our offices to share and vent, we need to make sure we are taking our own advice.