Really listening – It’s a kind of magic
I can listen, I hear you say. But, can you?
Listening is a very developable skill. Listening is far harder than speaking. Really listening takes effort and skill. Really listening means ignoring the urge to speak and to leave questions waiting. It is a kind of magic.
Being able to actively listen can truly transform the way we interact and communicate, not only in business but in our family lives as well.
“Why won’t you listen to what I’m saying?”
Who of us hasn’t at one time or another heard a loved one say “why won’t you listen to what I’m saying?” And, you thought you were. Well, you heard what was said, didn’t you? Actually, you didn’t.
The art of listening requires the ability to hear what is and what isn’t expressed in words. The ability to understand the true context of communication and allow the other person speaking to feel that you truly understand what is being said, showing respect for their point of view.
Building better listening skills requires practice and effort. The more you practice, the better you get.
Here are a few easy ways to start improving your active listening skills, and move your communication up a level.
1. Really listen
Stop everything else you are doing and listen. There is nothing more off putting to another person than the feeling that you are not paying attention.
How annoying is it when you are talking to someone on the phone and all you can hear while you speak is typing? That person isn’t listening and you know it.
When you multitask you are not and cannot listen effectively. Stop physically multi-tasking – reading and replying to email, surfing the internet and planning your next holiday. Stop mentally multi-tasking – thinking about your next question, what you are going to say next, where you are going with the conversation.
Focus, listen and only listen. (for more on active listening, please see my previous post “Active Listening – Hearing what people are really saying”
2. Tell them what they told you
Repeating back the message that has just been told to you is one of the best ways to show that other person that you are really listening and have understood what has been told to you. It is a technique often used in customer complaints departments and it works like a charm.
This may at first feel a little strange when you do it, but with practice it becomes completely natural and it makes all the difference.
3. Ask appropriate questions
Asking the other person appropriate and sensible questions not only shows that person that you are listening, but also helps to deepen your understanding too. The better the questions that you ask, the better you understand, the better your overall communication will be.
Taking the time to do these small number of things really does make all the difference. Its a great starting point for improved communication, and the benefits to you and the person you are speaking with are almost instant.
Start actively listening and communicating today, and you will never go back.