Listening is the most underutilized skill we possess. We have increased our activity levels, frequently multi-tasking and need to re-learn the singular act of effective listening.
Eight ideas to increase success with listening include:
- Value the interaction; you can’t learn less. Listen for ideas.
- Assume responsibility. Even if the speaker is boring or redundant, work actively at listening. Confirm and clarify when appropriate
- Make it easy for someone to speak to you. Maintain eye contact. Maintain a positive facial expression & posture. Provide non-verbal signals like nodding to show acceptance and interest.
4. Clear your thoughts. While you can listen six times faster than anyone can speak resist distractions; stop clicking your inner channel changer and stay with the speaker.
- Tune in with more that your ears. Listen with your eyes and your heart as well.
- Take notes. A short pencil is better than a long memory.
- Keep an open mind. Keep listening even if you don’t agree… there may be more commonality than you initially realize. Be aware of your biases and prejudices.
- Be prepared to paraphrase to demonstrate your understanding; this practice will actually increase your listening ability.