Remember the old saying, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason? This saying is important for a reason, listening is so central to good communication, and good communication is essential in business. We are all guilty of spending too much time running our mouths, instead of actively listening. Here’s a little-known communication fact, the finest communicators amongst us listen much more than they speak. Why is listening so hard for people to work out? When you’re a great listener, you experience no end of positive outcomes. You understand others more, you save time due to fewer communication misunderstandings, and you build stronger relationships as people like to feel that they’ve been heard and understood.
Follow the 5 Rules:
- All great listeners follow some basic rules. First, don’t multitask, multitasking is not good, it divides your attention and makes the other person think that you are generally not interested. If someone is talking to you and your reading emails or texting they will perceive you as not being present and not caring. The rule is to put down any other work and focus directly on the person speaking, give them your full undivided attention.
- Two, try and use appropriate body language.Good body language includes facing the person, making eye contact and showing interest by nodding or leaning forward etc. Try and avoid aggressive posture or negatively using your hands and arms as a barrier. All of these actions used together help the person feel at ease and visually shows them you’re listening and engaged with what they’re saying.
- Thirdly concentrate on what the person is saying without immediately judging or planning your own response before the speaker has finished speaking. From time to time we all get into the bad habit of assuming we know what the other person is going to say, so we judge and think about what we’re going to say in response without thoroughly listening. There might be subtle changes in their voice or certain words they use that will have useful meaning to you if you’re paying attention instead of prematurely responding inside your mind.
- Rule four is to take notes. Take down a small number of short words, notes are great if you have bad memory, and it also sends a strong message to the other person that you’re actively listening and care about what’s being said.
- Finally, when the person is done speaking, consider summarizing what was said. After asking any clarifying questions, giving a quick summary gives the other person the confidence that they were heard correctly. Just say something like, okay, if I heard you correctly, you want us to A, B, and C. Is this right? They can then correct you if needed, or simply confirm your understanding of what’s been said.
The art of communication has a lot to do with how you use words, but it’s even more about how you hear the words of others. Use these tips and the people you speak with will know that you’re truly listening and that they’ve been heard.
Thanks for Reading.