4 Skills to Hone to Become a Great Listener
Everyone likes to believe what they have to say is important – when someone makes the effort to share their thoughts they want to believe that the person they are speaking to is listening. While we may believe we are good listeners, chances are we are too distracted to give our undivided attention. Even worse, many people pretend to listen, simply waiting for their chance to jump into the conversation.
Active listening is an important aspect of being a great leader both in business and in other areas of our lives. These individuals understand that other want to be heard and understood. But, becoming a great listener is not as hard as it may seem – by practicing these five important skills, it is possible to become a great listener and a great leader sooner than you would image.
Be “in the Moment”
It is very important to focus your mental awareness on the individual you are listening to in order to truly grasp and understand what they are sharing with you. Pushing distractions aside and giving the individual the gift of your undivided attention is key. For some, this may mean turning off the computer screen, turning the smartphone away, and putting away the magazine or book. Make sure to keep eye contact with the individual and portray a neutral, pleasant expression that is inviting to their ideas.
Turn Down the Internal Analyzer
Everyone begins to internally analyze a conversation while it is happening. This can easily take over your brain, making it impossible truly hear what is being said while you have your own internal dialogue. Remember, there will be plenty of time after the conversation is over for you to analyze it – make sure you spend the time you have with the other individual listening to what they have to say or how they feel. There is nothing wrong with note taking if you are afraid of forgetting information.
Repeat the Information Back in Your Own Words
When the opportunity is appropriate, repeat back to the individual what you heard him or her say. In some cases, what the individual says, and how you interpret it can be two different things. An example of this is, after an individual has expressed their concern for a lack of security in the building, you say, “So you are most concerned about the possibility of a security breech in the building. Is that correct?” This will not only make sure you understand their concerns but also show them you are truly listening.
After the conversation has concluded, determine with the individual whether a follow-up conversation should take place. This type of “check-in” will let the individual know your concerns about what was shared and will help them to determine the relevancy of what was shared to your needs. Also, make sure to share your appreciation with the individual for coming to speak with you and let them know that you found the conversation to be interesting and meaningful.