how to learn to be a better listener? Listening is a valuable skill to have for entrepreneurs. Not having this ability can hurt your business in several ways: for starters, being a bad listener can make you come off as dismissive and can damage your relationships with employees and associates. And since you don’t take time to listen, you’ll miss out on critical information, which could hurt your ability to make good decisions.
You may think that you’re already a good listener, but there’s always room for improvement. Here are a few suggestions on how to get better at it.
How To Learn To Be A Better Listener?
How to Become a Better Listener: 20 Simple Tips. Keep in mind:
This should’ve been apparent but it seems like it still needs to be said: all your efforts at listening would be in vain if you don’t pipe down. Talking is one of the largest impediments to good listening – or any listening, for that matter. Have you ever tried listening while talking? It does work. Maybe you can physically hear the words coming out of the other person’s mouth; Maybe you might even make out bits and pieces of what was said, if you’re lucky, but all of it won’t register so you’re left with incomplete information.
Focus on the other person
Not saying anything, though, isn’t enough to make you a better listener. Good listening isn’t just about shutting up and hearing the other person. It starts with paying attention to what’s being said, what’s not being said, and how it’s being conveyed. You need to focus and not be preoccupied with the past or the future; just be in the present. Being lost in your own thoughts could cause you to miss certain important details.
Get rid of all distractions
For you to focus on the other person, you need to eliminate all distractions. These days, however, this may be a challenge thanks to the devices we use in the name of productivity: new e-mail or text messages arrive continuously; we’re constantly online and tempted to look at social networking websites; even watches and eyewear have now been turned into wearable computers that lead to even more distractions.
If you’re able to do what the other person is asking, then multitasking shouldn’t be a problem. But if someone is trying to share something personal or inform you about something important, then see to it that you stop whatever it is you’re doing and give that person your undivided attention. Not only does this help make you a better listener; It’s the polite thing to do.
Don’t interrupt the other person
Another polite thing to do is to allow the other person to finish. Finishing someone’s sentence may appear like you understand what the other person is saying, but it’s rude. What’s more, you’ll miss out on the rest of the information and prevent the other person from conveying his or her views and feelings. To avoid interrupting, wait for a few seconds before you respond.
Read between the lines
Not everything is conveyed through words. According to psychology expert Albert Mehrabian: “The verbal component of a face-to-face conversation is less than 35 per cent and that over 65 per cent of communication is done non-verbally”, specifically when talking about feelings and attitudes. That means words don’t always show a person’s real intent.
Because of this, you shouldn’t depend too much on spoken communication; instead, pay attention to intonation, word stress, word choice, volume, facial expressions, body language, and other non-verbal cues, all of which contribute to the conversation’s subtext. By reading between the lines, you can decipher more out of any exchange. This is a valuable skill to have in coaching, motivating, and dealing with other people in general.
Pay attention to your own body language
If you want to be a better listener, you have to be attuned not only to other people body language, but also your own. Remember: the way you act and react shows the other person how well you’re listening, or if you’re paying attention at all. If your words and your body language don’t correspond, it could lead to distrust and even conflict.
To show that you’re listening and interested in whatever the other person has to say, you should always do the following:
Lean slightly forward to show you’re paying attention.
Smile. This shows you’re engaged.
Maintain eye contact.
Keep an open posture (i.e. keep your head raised, elbows away from your body, hands away from each other, knees apart, legs uncrossed, and your torso directly facing the person you’re talking with).
Nod your head sometimes while listening.
Never presume anything
It’s also necessary to get into a conversation with an open mind. Once you start presuming things, you automatically distort whatever the other person is saying. So instead of listening, you’re just wait for the other person to finish so that you can validate your presumptions. This defeats the purpose of listening in the first place!
However, getting rid of these presumptions can sometimes be difficult. Maybe you don’t trust the other person; or perhaps you’re angry. But if you want to be a better listener, you have to be aware of these presumptions and keep them from changing the other person’s message.
Ask pertinent questions
Questions are a necessary component of any conversation. It mainly serves two purposes:
To make sure that the listener’s grasp of what the speaker has said is right.
To show the speaker that the listener is trying to understand what is being said in the conversation, and is earnestly concerned about it.
When someone speaks, not everything is immediately clear so it’s important that you ask relevant questions. This allows you to get a better sense of what the other person is telling you. For better results, ask open-ended questions, which can’t be answered with a yes, no, or any specific information. Open-ended questions usually begin with (although they’re not limited to) a “where”, “when”, “why”, and “how”.
Practice active listening
Active listening is a communication technique where the listener paraphrases what they heard to confirm what the speaker said. Typically, people just wait their turn when interacting with others instead of paying close attention. But with active listening, you don’t just listen; you restate what you heard, summarise to verify your understanding, ask probing questions, give feedback, and acknowledge the person’s feelings with empathy. Using this communication technique lets you connect better with people and develop more understanding and trust.
Listen to your employees during the “bad times”
Employee surveys are important no matter how the economy and your organization is performing. More often than not, they’re put on the back burner during economic uncertainty.
Organizations that take their eye off the ball risk playing catch up when the economy turns around, but by then it might be too late to listen to your employees.
Your employees may be disappointed that their views were not considered important enough to be considered during the “bad times”; the good employees might have decided to leave or the remaining employees’ attitudes might have had a detrimental effect on productivity, customer service, performance and organizational culture.
Maintain employee engagement
It’s especially important to use an employee survey to measure leadership and communication during economic uncertainty. These areas help to maintain employee engagement and significantly contribute towards pulling your organization through the bad times. Leading from the front foot, communicating direction will reinforce alignment with employees and keep everyone on the same path.
Stay in touch with your employees
You don’t need to invest in a full blown employee survey to stay in touch with your employees. You can take a quick pulse of your organization’s leadership and communication capabilities with an Employee Pulse Survey. Insync Surveys’ Employee Pulse Survey is a short version of our employee survey, it’s the perfect tool to quickly identify areas most in need of improvement.
A full employee survey can provide you with a comprehensive overview of your organisaton’s alignment and employee engagement. It measures how well your organization is positioned to meet its strategic objectives including an overview of how well positioned it is in the areas of leadership and communication. The employee survey results allow your organization to devise the best path to set yourself up for sustainable high performance.
Ensure your organization is well positioned to take advantage when the bad times are over.