Before you can become a better listener, consider the following important note:
Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply.
In other words, they are either speaking or preparing to speak.
When you are actively listening, you use your ears, your eyes and your heart. You listen for feeling and meaning. You listen for comprehension or understanding before you evaluate or judge. Listening is about trust, respect, involvement and information sharing more than it is about ears.
People who seem to be good listeners weren’t born that way; they’ve practised and practised. Listening is a skill that gets better as you practise (like most skills).
Listening may be the single most undervalued and undeveloped business skill, especially in an age of increasing uncertainty and fast-paced change. It is a POWER skill that can get results like nothing else can.
So what 4 Simple things can you focus on that will instantly make you a better listener? Let’s take a look.
Instantly Become a Better Listener with the Skills of Active Listening
1. Maintain attentiveness
This means giving your physical attention to another person:
- Adopt a state of interest
- Eye contact for 60 – 70% of the time
- Show interest using facial expression
- Avoid closed gestures
2. Check for understanding
To do this you may need to paraphrase what the person said. It is useful to re-state any facts or figures used. Read between the lines and pick up any emotions you are detecting. Look for the ‘head nod’ for evidence of understanding.
3. Ask effective questions
Open questions provide information. Closed questions direct the speaker to give a specific short response, usually “yes” or “no”. They are useful to confirm information or close down a conversation. The quality of the question you ask will determine the quality of the answer or information you get.
4. Allow silence
There are times when the most effective thing to do is be silent. This does not simply mean ‘not saying anything’. It means being fully present and tuned-in to the other person. It means being alert, clear of mind with all mental dialogue temporarily suspended.
If you want to become a better listener, join us in the Great Managers Academy.