Using active listening for a more effective communication

Listening is essential to successful communication at all levels and is one of the most important and useful skills we can have, for both personal and professional success. And although we use it in all contexts, to obtain information, to understand, or to learn, we spend our school years learning to read, write and speak, but almost no time learning how to really listen.

Studies suggest that we only remember between 25-50% of what we hear, as portrayed by Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience. That is because listening is not something that just happens naturally (as hearing), but an active process in which a decision is made consciously to listen and understand the messages of the speaker.

By becoming a better listener, you can improve your productivity and ability to influence, convince and negotiate. Furthermore, you’ll avoid conflicts due to misunderstandings. The way to improve in this respect is to practice “active listening”, namely paying full attention to the interlocutor and trying to understand the complete message being communicated. Active listening is a skill that can be acquired and developed with rehearsal.

There are several techniques you can use to become a more effective listener:

Be present. Don’t get distracted by what is going on around you, your own line of thoughts or by thinking of counter arguments while the other person is still speaking. Look at the speaker directly and give him/her your undivided attention.

Show your interest by using both verbal and non-verbal messages, such as nodding occasionally, smiling, saying ‘yes’ or simply ‘mhm / uh huh’ to encourage the speaker to continue. Among other non-verbal signs of listening can also be mentioned: leaning slightly forward or even mirroring the speaker’s posture or expressions. By receiving this response, the person speaking usually feels more comfortable and therefore communicates more openly and honestly.

Reflect on what is being said, ask questions and provide feedback. Summarise the speaker’s comments by using the main points of their message and rephrasing them in your own words, thus giving the speaker chance to correct you if necessary.

Try using the following expressions to ensure the communicator that you understood what he/she is saying:

  • Sounds like you are saying…
  • Let me see if I understand…
  • So, you see it as…
  • What I think I am hearing is…
  • What I think you mean is…

If he/she agrees, you will know that you’re on the same page. If not, go deeper to comprehend his/her view.

Pay attention to more than what is being said or not said. Try to read through the nuances, the meaning behind the words, the person’s mimic, body language and overall energy, as well as how the messages are expressed. See how the interlocutor reacts, how convincing he/she is, what’s his/her argumentation, as well as his/her enthusiasm and interest for certain topics.

Don’t interrupt and allow the speaker to finish expressing his/her ideas. You should avoid jumping in with questions or comments every time there are a few seconds of silence. Active listening involves giving the other person time to explore and convey their thoughts, feelings and ideas.

Be open to the other’s perspective, encourage respect and understanding in the communication.

Why you should have a board of advisors

Working in the same business for a long time might lead to narrowing down the top managers’ views over improvements and opportunities. One of the best ways to keep the business ahead of its market is to bring in a strong board of advisors. They are usually a group of hand-selected professionals with solid business background, whose primary role is to help the company’s leaders clear the air when it comes to strategic decisions.

Having a board of advisors can help get the business to the next level as:

• The members of the board are objective and unbiased; therefore, they could be great for pointing out the blind spots and also be more creative in finding solutions to solve them.

• They are seasoned experts, have a great knowledge base, and are willing to share their experience and lessons learned. This saves precious time for the learning curve of the company’s managers.

• Choosing advisors that are ahead of you and have already achieved what you are trying to, means that you can learn a great deal from both their successes and their mistakes.

Unlike a board of directors, the advisory board has an informal nature and offers non-binding advice, adding value and strength to the business at greater flexibility.

See here who are the members of Stein & Partner’s Advisory Board:

Blind spots in interviews and how to avoid them

The greatness of our social being characteristics is that we can easily connect with each other and have conversations that influence our energy. It is as valid for interviews, as for any other encounter and it makes our job amazingly beautiful. It can also become a challenge, as having great conversation skills does not make up for the technical ones.

Therefore, a potential and harmful blind spot is getting carried away by a person’s open and friendly personality. Whilst it is always great from the perspective of coordinating a team, there are also other things that have to be taken into consideration and evaluated. References, situational and competency-based interviews, examples of solutions to specific situations the candidate has implemented, carefully tailored questions to identify behavioural patterns have to be added to the discussion so as to clarify all details.

Another notable blind spot would be rushing to consider a candidate as not being suitable before doing a more complex appraisal. Consequently, we are to leave the subjectivism aside and correctly asses the know-how, experience, skills, values and potential match with our client’s company.

What we are looking for most when in search of leadership potential

Renowned author Daniel Goleman states that a person with true leadership potential is driven to achieve beyond expectations – first and foremost the ones that they set for themselves. “They seek out creative challenges, love to learn, and take great pride in a job well done. They display an unflagging energy to do things better. They are also eager to explore new approaches to their work”, says Daniel Goleman.

Also, people who communicate easily, are positive and determined, and in the same time self-aware and analytical, have great opportunities of becoming true leaders. Teams usually need somebody who leadership helps them get to their next level in the most non-intrusive way. Therefore, they will always appreciate and grant full trust to a leader that is rather humble and has a coach-like approach, not power driven and directive.

Not always the persons with leadership potential are fully aware of their capabilities, consequently one of our team’s most important role is finding them the right place to become what they are meant to be, as well as help them develop the career that highlights their best features. It’s the only way both them and the companies that nurture them will win the performance game.

Most wonderful 3 traits in the Romanian social culture

Every social culture borrows characteristics from the people’s general profile to their professional attitudes and behaviours. From this perspective, Romanians have always been appreciated by co-workers all over the world for being some of the most reliable and easy-going colleagues they have.

According to a Result Development Study on the values of Romanian employees, we are very family-oriented people and have strong connections and dedication towards our loved ones. This trait translates into the workplace as a high adherence of a person towards a team, people fit in easier and this results into much greater cohesion and effectiveness.

We are also very open and quick to relate to each other, and this becomes a highly appreciated quality at work, especially in industries that require frequent contact with people. This makes it easy for us to adapt and always find creative ways to make multicultural teams work very well together.

It is also our curiosity and capacity to learn new things and grow that makes us stand out in corporate environments. Being able to quickly resonate and connect to information helps us stay in the forefront of team developments no matter the company we are working for.

The Potential is the Focus. Interview with Andreea Manta, Partner

What do you see as the most important trend marking the executive search industry?

As talent and people skills tend to become more and more relevant in any managerial job, we turned our focus towards the person behind the job description. This is the result of an ever-changing business environment that challenges companies to be flexible and to have a high degree of adaptability so as to respond to markets’ moves.

Speaking about adaptability, would that be the main trait of a top manager today?

Many necessary managerial traits always come in various shapes and styles, as companies vary and organizational cultures are ever more diverse. Adaptability is one of the most important skills a manager should own today, as this is one of the strongest characteristic to have, to be able to lead your team forward.

What else would you look for in a top manager?

What we notice as showing true value in relationship building within a senior position, as this became the most important role at this level, are honesty and self-awareness. There is nothing more rewarding for both parties than to relate to each other openly and thoroughly and thus build a long-term collaboration.

Executive search is the new strategic leadership advisory

In an age dominated by the overwhelming importance of people development, as well as talent discovery and growth, companies today need much more than a great executive search partner – they need a strategic one. The executive search term in its very technical meaning is just a part of the whole package of competencies these entities are looking for.

Having experience in advisory board consultancy and succession plan strategies, organizational culture diagnosis and development, shaping the leadership profile within the company – adds a significant amount of value to the ability of finding the right person for the right position. In order to be able to deliver these essential services for our clients, our team has been building constantly on agility and resilience, understanding the needs and expectations of both the organizations and the candidates.

Thus, by being ready to assess, analyse, recommend and deliver the services necessary to shape the best solutions for our clients, we are significantly contributing to the companies’ development not only in terms of human resources, but also in terms of business.

For more details about our services, please check

The New Age in Business – Diversity and Inclusion

Nowadays, companies are built from communities crystalized around skills, expertise and human connections, above anything else. When looking to fill a position, the employer should try to find candidates who possess those unique traits that would best complete the existing team, no matter their gender, race, ethnicity, local culture or subculture, age and generation.

Researches show that companies which embrace diversity and inclusion in their business outperform the market and thus have above-average financial results. That is because having a mix of different profiles, backgrounds, education, skill sets, and perspectives leads to innovation and helps the organization have a strong competitive advantage in any industry.

Therefore, creating a diverse and inclusive environment should be a one of the priorities in terms of recruiting, but should also be a focus when initiating retention and development programs, performance management and training strategies. Most importantly, managers should strive to create an atmosphere in which all employees feel encouraged to voice their opinions.  

The perfect management position for you is one interview away

As executive search partners, we are the first ones to meet with our clients’ potential candidates for the positions we are recruiting for. And it is always a pleasure to discover again and again the wonderful diversity in personalities and work experience that makes for people’s uniqueness. But what is even more impressive is finding the right balance between a great energy, openness to new things and lifetime learning, combined with a curiosity and desire to perform.

What we are always looking for in the right candidate would be the person behind the professional experience and the position:

  • the positive vibe, confidence, and enthusiasm
  • honesty and responsibility for one’s own strengths and weaknesses
  • curiosity for what’s behind a job announcement, demonstrated interest for the company and good preparation of the interview

More often than not, these traits belong to the ones that see the added value in soul-searching and ever-learning, the ones that really look at jobs as steps in their personal development, not only the professional one. This is the reason why we would be always happy to get to know people that are ready to acknowledge their next level of performance.

Retention starts with recruiting

Great companies are made of amazing, driven, and talented people. The same great companies are successful in their endeavour to attract these exceptional people by having the best retention policies in place, as well as first-rate recruitment processes, which represent the beginning of the new people’s journey within the company.

This beginning is of major relevance for creating that attractiveness factor that makes a company the best place to work for anybody considering joining, no matter the experience or the position. A strong, balanced, experienced recruitment partner should represent the exact values of that company, immersing itself in the organizational culture and knowing how to look for the right human connectors between the company and its future employees. It’s the exact characteristics that candidates feel right away and click immediately to when considering the job.

Because, at the end of the day, it’s the human in human resources that transforms a company of any kind into a real team that can drive its future ahead.