Active Listening: A Critical Skill for Project Managers

Project management is a complex field, and there are numerous certification tracks available for those who wish to become certified project managers. However, despite the importance of people skills in project management, many of these certification tracks do not place enough emphasis on this aspect of the job.

As a project manager myself, I have found that the ability to communicate effectively with team members is one of the most important skills for success. Yet, in my experience, project management certification tracks often focus more on technical skills and project methodologies than on people skills.

Fortunately, there are resources available for project managers to improve their people skills. For example, the book “Nonviolent Communication” by Marshall Rosenberg offers practical guidance on how to communicate with empathy, clarity, and respect. One key principle from the book is to focus on observations rather than evaluations, which can help to minimize defensiveness and promote understanding.

By taking the time to really listen to team members, project managers can gain their respect and build stronger relationships. When team members feel heard and valued, they are more likely to be motivated and to go the extra mile when necessary. Rosenberg emphasizes the importance of active listening, which involves fully attending to what the other person is saying without interrupting or judging.

At the same time, it is important for project managers not to push their team members too hard. While it’s important to encourage and motivate the team, it’s equally important to respect their boundaries and limitations. Pushing team members too hard can lead to burnout and resentment, which can ultimately harm the project. Rosenberg encourages project managers to take a needs-based approach to communication, focusing on identifying the needs and values of team members and finding ways to meet them.

In my experience, the best project managers are those who are able to balance their technical skills with their people skills. They understand that the success of any project ultimately depends on the effort and commitment of the people involved, and they are able to build strong relationships with team members to ensure that everyone is working together towards a common goal.

In conclusion, while technical skills and project methodologies are important in project management, people skills are equally crucial. By learning from resources like “Nonviolent Communication,” project managers can improve their ability to communicate effectively with team members, build strong relationships, and ultimately achieve success in their projects.


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