Communication is a two-way street, as the saying goes, but it often feels like traffic is only moving in one direction. Many people have no problem talking but struggle when it comes to truly listening to someone else.

There’s some data to support this notion, too, with a Harvard Business Review study from 1957 suggesting that the average listener will remember only about 25% of what was said during a talk. That’s old research, but the underlying idea has more or less stood the test of time — we’re collectively not very good at listening.

In the business world, listening is critical — particularly these days, with more people working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The article below lays out eight ways to get better at listening in the workplace:

  • Allow for silence
  • Repeat back in your own words
  • Ask useful (and relevant) questions
  • Work toward empathy
  • Do a recap
  • Have a backup plan for the tech (when it comes to remote meetings)
  • Use names in remote meetings
  • Take your time

For mobility managers, better listening can mean getting more in tune with the wants and needs of relocating employees — and a good way to start is by looking at exceptions. In a recent survey we conducted of relocating employees who moved amid the pandemic, we found that 15% of these people requested a policy exception. The most common request revolved around getting more time to use relocation benefits.

Exception requests are one way that relocating employees communicate to your mobility team. Track these requests and try to spot any trends that emerge. What does this information say about your mobility program? And then, to be a really proactive listener, think about this information and how you can use it to enhance your program. If all you ever do is accept or deny these requests — without considering more substantive policy changes — you’re not truly listening to what relocating employees are saying.