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How I learned to be better at active listening as a manager

When this buffer engineer became a manager, he realized that his tendency to switch to problem-solving mode isn’t always an asset


Communication is the most important tool we have when it comes to teamwork—especially in remote work.

But as an engineer, in the past I’ve focused more on code than communication. Although I talked to people, my output was writing code and solving problems. So when I became a manager, I realized that I needed to listen a lot more.


Listening sounds so simple, right? Well, for me it hasn’t been that plain and simple. Hearing what the other person is saying is one thing, but really listening—listening for meaning, and how the other person is feeling—is something I wasn’t good at.

Whenever I heard a problem, my engineer brain shifted to “Let’s solve it.” That attitude can make a great engineer, but it’s exactly what worked against me as a manager of people.

Conversations are a tricky thing—especially when it comes to difficult topics, like receiving/giving feedback, or talking about a very personal topic. As a manager, this is the real work.

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