Learn how listening can make you a better communicator!
Listening is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as: “to hear something with thoughtful attention : give consideration.”
The keywords here are thoughtful attention and consideration. By being a generous listener, you not only improve the other person’s opinion of you, you will also be sure to capture important information that allows you to communicate more clearly on the topic of discussion.
It sounds easy, but of course, listening…I mean REALLY listening…can sometimes be harder than you expect. It’s easy to get distracted by things around you, thoughts in your own head, even your brain preparing your response to what the other person has said.
Being a generous listener means listening like you’ve never listened before. Think of it as listening with enthusiasm or listening with full body alertness.
Have you ever tried talking with someone who says they are listening…but you can tell they aren’t? You feel unheard because they didn’t give you their FULL attention, right? So when you’re listening, amp up the volume with all your presence – using both your ears AND eyes. Looking at someone when they are speaking (not glancing at your phone!) shows that they have your full attention and it will help you to retain the information being shared as well.
When you do this, you’ll also be listening to the words NOT being said. You’ll hear the feeling under the spoken words. This helps you understand not only what they are saying, but the reasons behind it and it will help you to better interpret what their needs are.
Another key is to ask questions. And not just quick and easy ones. Ask open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer so you build the conversation with greater understanding. Keep in mind that “what” is your friend. Ask questions that begin with “what” for better responses.
Then, really listen to the answer given. When you notice your mind start drifting off to other things or formulating your response…that’s NOT listening! Gently, or abruptly, as the case may be, bring yourself back to present time and refocus your energy on the person speaking.
Making someone feel heard is one of the greatest gifts you can offer them.
How do you practice your listening skills to become a better conversationalist? Do you turn your phone off so you aren’t interrupted or are tempted to peek at email? Or, maybe you move from your desk to another seat in the room near the person you’re speaking with so you aren’t distracted by what’s on your desk?
Share below in the comments any tips and tricks you have for staying engaged in the conversation. We can all learn from one another!