I have been aware of my own need to develop excellent listening skills lately. Most of this awareness has unfortunately come from spending time with others who do not know how to listen. Not being listened to isn’t fun. And it has made me more aware that I’m often the one who doesn’t listen.
Listening is an important skill. If we desire to be excellent in business and in life – it’s imperative that we learn to listen and listen well.
The sad truth is that most of us pay little attention to being excellent listeners. We want to talk and be heard at the expense of listening to other. We want to say what we think, be in the lime light and be the star of the conversation. Yet how do we expect to be heard, if we will not listen?
The benefits of listening are huge. When you learn to listen effectively you’ll be able to influence any organization. You’ll see opportunities for growth and increased productivity. Your customers will be drawn to you and want to do business with you. You’ll keep and grow life long relationships. You’ll be able to manage conflicts more effectively. You’ll be more creative and connected. You’ll grow as a leader and draw people to you. The bottom line is that by being a better listener, you will be more influential in all you do.
Many of you know – I love to talk. Yet not everyone wants to hear me talk all the time – they often just want me to listen. I have to remind myself that I’m not always the “speaker” and that I don’t need to run at the mouth constantly. No one wants to be around someone who consistently dominates the conversation. And no one wants to just listen. We all want a chance to talk and to be heard.
I have developed an inner radar. Thanks to Shobana for creating the awareness in me. I just knew I needed to pay attention to how much I talked and how effectively I listened. I began paying attention to my conversations. I began noticing how much time I spent talking and how much time I spent listening. The sad results were that I talked way more than I listened – ouch!
In order to begin training myself to listen more effectively – I shut up. I let the other person talk. I asked questions and removed distractions. I often literally bit my tongue. And in doing so, I learned. I learned things from my clients, my friends and from my mentor how to listen . I also learned that people genuinely respond to active listening. When I listened, others were able to shine and when they did – I learned.
I believe we can all practice the art of listening and develop it into a skill. The best communicators I know are also the best listeners. Below are some tips for developing better listening skills.
Tips for Developing Listening Skills
1. Attention. Give your full attention to the speaker. When you are on the phone, just listen. Give your full attention to the speaker.
2. Focus. Focus on the speaker and what he or she is saying. Do not plan what you will say next. By planning what you’ll say next, you’re not listening.
3. Let other person finish. Do not begin talking until the other person is finished. It’s okay to ask them if they are done.
4. Don’t start. Don’t start talking immediately. Let the words of the other person sink in and then think about what you want to say. There can be silence in conversations.
5. Important points. When you begin speaking, review the important points of the speaker. Make sure you heard them correctly.
6. Ask questions. People love to have others ask them questions.
7. Give feedback. Let the other person know what you think about their comments and ideas.
8. Be quiet. Speaking less and listening more is a good thing. I have personally observed Kanti Gala practice this all the time. The old saying goes – you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Use your ears.
9. I have learned from Shobana how to be Other centered. Life is not all about us. We need to remind ourselves of this often. Focus on others. What are their strengths? What can they contribute? And how can I allow them to be the center of the conversation?
10. Let them be the star! People want to shine. They want to be heard and to be a star. Let them. We don’t need to shine all the time. By allowing others the chance to shine – we develop other leaders and bring out the best in people.
"I only wish I could find an institute that teaches people how to listen.Business people need to listen at least as much as they need to talk. Too many people fail to realize that real communication goes in both directions." Lee Iacocca
May you actively listen today!