We are listening all the time, to our colleagues, our customers, our families and friends, but how many of us can say we are good listeners?
How often do you find yourself finishing sentences for people, making assumptions about what they are talking about, even doing something else at the same time rather than focussing your full attention on the conversation?
Excellent listening skills are a vital skill for everyone, and one that takes constant practice. As a Coach I rely on these skills to provide the best possible results to my clients, and strive to continue to develop and refine them. As an HR Consultant I strongly recommend developing listening skills to anyone responsible for managing staff, developing customer relationships, and generally interacting with colleagues.
To actively listen to someone you hear what is being said, why it is being said, and more importantly what is not being said. This information gives you so much more to work with and can greatly influence the questions you ask in return. You are listening to understand, and once you understand you are better placed to take action.
5 Top Tips to Demonstrate You Are Really Listening
1. Maintain eye contact. This can be difficult or impossible with interactions over video conferencing or telephone, so if this is the case give verbal reassurance at regular intervals to let the other person no you are engaged
2. Clarify. Check you have understood what the other person you are listening to has said either by summarising it or repeating back the sentence to them.
3. Limit distractions. Ensure you are in a quiet space where you are unlikely to be interrupted and you can give the conversation your full attention..
4. Be curious. Ask questions about what they are telling you to further enhance your understanding.
5. Assume nothing. Remember that everyone’s experiences and outlook on the world are different. Put aside your own experiences and values and seek to understand the person you are listening to.