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5 Secrets of Exceptional Listeners
Chances are you’ve never been truly taught perhaps the most crucial communication skill.
That skill is listening.
Sure you may think you’re a good listener, but that’s because we’re often told not speaking and nodding along means that you’re listening. You may sit there quietly, but in reality your brain is almost always forming responses and waiting until it’s your turn. Your intentions may be good, you want to keep the conversation flowing, build upon points, even have your voice heard, but you’re not truly listening. As said best, by Stephen Covey, (Author of ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’), “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Effective listening may just be the most important business communication skill. That’s because effective listening shows the speaker that he/she has been truly heard and understood. Those who feel heard are more likely to feel valued and respected, making good listening skills the key to trusted business relationships. Through effective listening you can also gather information and insight to better connect with clients, manage teams and avoid confusion.
So how can you become a better listener? Here are 5 things exceptional listeners consistently put into practice.
ASK QUESTIONS: Good listeners do more than stay mute. Exceptional listeners probe further for understanding, they ask clarifying questions when they don’t fully understand a point, and they clear up confusion in the moment. Asking questions is a skill exceptional listeners put in practice daily. Instead of jumping in to add on with their own point of view and experience, good listeners ask questions to keep the focus on the other person. Making the speaker feel heard and respected.
REPHRASE: Good listeners check in to make sure they’re on the same page. “So what you’re saying is….” Or “I hear you saying…” are great ways to circle back and make sure everyone is still on the same page. You can’t truly hear someone if you’re
DON’T ASSUME: Good listeners stay in the moment. They don’t bring pre-conceived thoughts or ideas into the conversation. They listen in the moment and don’t make automatic judgments. Good listeners give their audience a chance to be heard.
PAUSE: Good listeners give it a beat before they jump in with their own thoughts. They understand that communication isn’t a competition or a race. They think before they speak and they don’t speak simply to hear their own voice. They wait to respond until the right time and don’t rush to get their point of view across. They allow the speaker’s words to sit and resonate before they respond or pile-on with their own point of view.
STAY FOCUSED: Good listeners keep the focus on whomever’s speaking. They put phones down, turn off distractions and stay in the moment. A good listener is present and keeps the focus on the speaker. When we’re worried about what we’ll say next, our focus is on ourselves, not the other person. A good listener keeps attention on the audience, allowing them to take in non-verbal cues as well and better read the situation.
Effective listening allows for more meaningful conversation. Most of your success in the workplace will come from you listening to someone else, or from someone else listening to you. So take the time to practice listening skills.