Most people think that communication is all about opening their mouths and gaining instant attention and cooperation. But in these days with so much media surrounding us, it can be harder than you think to get your message through.

Listening is not about letting the information wash over the hearer. It should be about active communication and asking for clarification as needed. Good listening is all about focusing on what is being said. If you have trouble with this yourself or are concerned that your message might not be getting through, use the RA-RA method to spot the signs that your employee is actually listening to you.

  • Relaxed
  • Alert
  • Ready to listen
  • Attentive while the other person is speaking.



The most important element is that the person is relaxed enough to pay attention to what you have to say. Many of us make the mistake of tapping on someone’s door or popping into their cubicle saying, “Have you got a minute?” and barely pausing for breath before launching right into what we wish to communicate.

A more strategic approach would be to make some notes about what you wish to speak to them about so you do not lose your train of thought. Then suggest via email or as you pass by whether you can arrange for a few minutes to talk when it is mutually convenient.

Everyone will be much more relaxed if they are not trying to multitask. They are also likely to be less annoyed because they have not been interrupted in the middle of something important.


Giving the same example as above, it is almost impossible for someone in the middle of an important task to become instantly alert enough to focus on what you are trying to tell them. Body language will certainly give you a clue as to how alert they are. If they are looking at their computer or turned away from you going through papers on their desk, it is clear they are not going to be alert enough to hear what you have to say.

Ready to Listen

We communicate via body language more than we realize. A person who is ready to listen to us will usually be sitting close to us or leaning forward, and looking directly at us rather than twisting away or looking at something else. Make sure your employee shows he is ready to listen. They can do that as well by stating, “Okay, you have my undivided attention. I’m ready to listen now.”

Attentive While the Other Person is Speaking

Being attentive means not allowing your mind to wander to the 100 things on your to do list while the other person is speaking. Your employees can show they are listening in a focused and attentive manner in a number of ways. The first is for them to take notes about the most important points you cover. If you are in a large meeting, for example, give each person a printed copy of the agenda and notice how many people are jotting down details. Also be sure no cellphones or laptops are distracting them.

If you are one on one, your employee will nod, say “Uh-huh,” or ask you questions about what you’ve just said. Since listening is a two-way process, be prepared to offer clarification, not dictation.

[Tweet “Once your employees are focused as listeners using the RA-RA method, they will be enthusiastic about what you have to say, not annoyed at any interruption. Use the method yourself as well, and what a difference it can make to your office communications.”]