How Well Do You Listen?

Posted by Bernie Reifkind on June 27, 2009

Let’s assume that there is a verifiable “Most Needed Business Skills” list that every executive must master.

Listening belongs at the top of list.

Your skill set, educational background, years of experience, economic influence, tenure……none of it matters if you are not a good listener.

There are many tests that determine how well you listen with typical questions such as:

  1. Do you encourage others to participate in discussions?
  2. Do you listen to understand rather than spend the time preparing your next remark?
  3. Do you allow others to express their complete thought without interrupting?
  4. Do you ask others what they mean or just assume that you understand them?
  5. Do you avoid becoming excited or hostile when another’s views differ from yours?
  6. Do you try to summarize the points of agreement or disagreement?
  7. When taking notes while someone is talking, do you write down ideas rather than all the facts?
  8. Do you ignore distractions while listening?
  9. Do you listen even though the conversation is boring?
  10. Are you listening!!!!!!

The biggest problems that most of us encounter in the workplace are due to miscommunication or by making assumptions that have not been clarified.

It’s not about hearing what you want to hear, it’s about listening to the content of the message. Plural inference is a legal term which simply means more than one interpretation. How often do we misconceive what we are told because we did not listen?

Clarity of the message being conveyed is crucial. Listen to, not at.

The following steps can be taken to become a world class listener:

  1. Give the speaker your undivided attention.
  2. Ask questions. This shows that you are interested and more importantly that you understand the significance of the topic.
  3. Be sure to concentrate on the speakers words and resist the temptations to tune out their message. While speaking on the phone many people participate in other activities such as checking email, reading newspapers and
    other activities that distract from the conversation. Even in a face to face situation many listeners zone out by either thinking about their response to the speaker or daydreaming about something completely off topic. Even just a
    small amount of distraction could result in you missing a critical point of the speaker’s presentation.
  4. Make sure that what you hear comes directly from the speaker and not from your interpretation of their words. Many people are guilty of jumping to conclusions which can damage their listening ability. People who do this often don’t hear the speaker’s message because it is blocked out by their own assumptions.
  5. Empathize. When someone shares information with you, put yourself in his shoes. Doing this will allow the two of you to discover solutions more easily and will also help you appreciate a perspective different from your own.
  6. Creating mental images of the speaker’s words is another way to become a better listener. This visualization process allows you to really comprehend the words you are hearing.
  7. Asking questions that relate to the speaker’s presentation can also help you to become a better listener. It’s important to ask questions without allowing the formulation of the questions to interfere with your listening. Asking questions is an important part of listening because it lets the speaker know that you are following what he is saying and that you are interested in learning more about the topic.
  8. Respond verbally and non-verbally. Using an enthusiastic tone shows you’re interested in what the speaker is saying.
  9. Practicing your listening skills is another way to become a better listener. Make a conscientious effort to apply your listening skills each time you speak to someone or attend a presentation. You can practice your listening skills by
    remaining completely focused on the conversation or presentation, not trying to guess what the speaker is about to say, creating mental images of the spoken words and asking pertinent questions to affirm what you have just
    heard.
  10. Listening skills are just as critical as speaking skills. Being a good listener will not only ensure that you are receiving the correct information but will affirm to the speaker that you care about the information being presented.

Listen up!

6 Responses to “How Well Do You Listen?”

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