Listening Skills for a Secretary, PA or Minute Taker are essential. When we talk to our work colleagues, we are there to obtain information and to understand their needs. We need to learn and know what tasks they would like us to undertake quickly and efficiently. Interestingly, on average we hear about 30-50% of what a person speaks in a conversation, we then we faze out. This is where your skill as a Secretary, PA or Minute Taker needs to come into play. You need to become an active listener.
Sometimes, it is the things our colleagues do not say that makes our job easier. When a recent colleague asked if I know how to enter invoices, I told him that I did. I asked if he would like me to show him what to do. It transpired that he did not want me to help him with data entry, but the VAT was in a bit of a mess. He needed assistance in getting it sorted out.
There are five essential aspects to Listening Skills
- Pay attention to what your colleague is telling you, understand your colleague body language. Are they nervous, scared or excited? Look at your colleague directly, don’t look around.
- Show you are listening, write notes if applicable, nod, encourage them to speak more with the odd yes, and umm but don’t over do it. There is nothing worse than listening to someone say yes and umm after every word you say.
- Repeat back – if you are taking instructions from your colleague, repeat back what you have heard. You are confirming your instruction, and your colleague will be pleased you understood his or her requirements.
- Wait – this is probably the hardest skill to learn. Wait until your colleague has finished his statement before asking him a question. Don’t interrupt them. Any PA and Secretary will tell you that you have to be subordinate and dominate at the same time and this is where you learn that skill.
- Respect – When you are listening to your colleague respects their time, respect their space and opinions. If you have an idea or suggestion, ensure you politely suggest. Remember you are working together as a team.
To improve your Listening Skills and understand the role of a secretary and the role of a PA then take a look at our Secretarial and PA Training Course here.