Developing strong listening skills requires paying close attention to verbal cues, tonality, and nonverbal body language. Sensemaking involves considering all parts of the conversation within one’s own context—asking questions for clarification when necessary—and being open to alternative perspectives. These skills have always enabled better decision-making in an increasingly complex world. But have we yet defined their competencies for hybrid work?
As we look to improve communication in the hybrid workplace, let’s start by sharpening our listening and sensemaking abilities with awkwardness in mind. We need to be more cognizant of our speaking and listening habits when both are being used simultaneously, and pay closer attention during in-person meetings, videoconferencing, and in hybrid gatherings. These practices can help us prepare for the new and next normal. I explore them further in my upcoming book, A Test for Our Time: Crisis Leadership in the Next Normal.
It’s time that we embrace the power of mastering listening and sensemaking skills to bridge hybrid work gaps between teams, foster meaningful conversations, solve problems collaboratively, and lead effectively in today’s world. With practice and intentionality, these skills can make a world of difference in a world and a workplace that continue to evolve.