I need to get better at listening. Do you?
As I wrote my book, Speak With No Fear, I wrote about the power of listening. I felt a bit hypocritical as I wrote it because that is not my strength. I write this article to give you direction and to teach my self.
Think about how well you listen. You know that sometimes you leap into actions and assumptions. You know you’ve done it more than once. You’ve opened your mouth and let your words fly, only to wish you could somehow take them back. You thought you knew it all. You might have been a little angry. You knew you had the right to say it. But in the end, you have little more than regret to show for it.
Discover how to change the outcomes of your interactions with these ideas about how to listen more effectively.
Listen first, by implementing these tips:
1. Put your full attention on the other person’s words. Most people don’t listen well. They’re just waiting for the other person to finish so they can speak. Instead, use the time to relax and pay attention to the other person. This isn’t the time to allow your mind to wander. Stay focused.
2. Maintain eye contact. There are few things more annoying than speaking to someone while they look around the room as if they’d rather be doing something else. Others appreciate it when you pay attention to them. They’ll actually like you more if you simply maintain eye contact during a conversation.
3. Let them finish before you begin thinking about what you want to say. Hear everything that’s being said before formulating a response. Your conversation partner can tell when your mind is elsewhere. Be patient.
4. Get all the information before you speak. Ask necessary questions and follow up with the appropriate people before saying something that might create drama.
5. Clarify.Ensure that what you heard is what they meant. It’s common to misunderstand, especially when the other person isn’t articulate. Take a moment to ask the necessary follow-up questions.
6. Avoid making assumptions. Every assumption carries the risk of error. Again, find out everything you need to know before you speak. No one can make the right assumptions 100% of the time.
7. Decide if it’s better to be right or to be happy. Maybe you’re in the right. That doesn’t mean that things are going to work out in a favorable way for you. Sometimes, it’s wiser to be happy than to be right. If you insist on being right at all times, you might want to work on keeping your ego in-check.
8. The more you listen, the more you stand to gain. In a work environment, you can learn a lot by listening. You don’t learn much from speaking. You’ll be surprised by what the other person will reveal if you’re willing to listen. A short silence is often enough to get the other person to share a lot more.
9. The more you listen, the more others are willing to listen to you. Listen respectfully, then others will listen when it’s your turn. The less you say, the more your words will count, too. People ignore the person who never seems to stop talking.
10. Put your phone away. Your favorite game might be far more interesting than listening to your coworker prattle on about her children, but your game can wait. Keep your phone out of sight and out of your hands while you’re having a conversation.
Listening skills are in short supply in modern society. We have a lot of distractions and a strong focus on ourselves. However, poor listening skills can be costly. It can be easy to jump to the wrong conclusion or to offend someone by not giving them the attention they deserve.
Be respectful. Get all the information you need before taking any action, including speaking. Listen before you leap.
President & Lead Coach at ADVANCE