How Well Do You Listen?

Posted by admin 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.

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!

One Response to “How Well Do You Listen?”

  1. Foremost, let me commend your clarity on this subject. I am not an expert on this topic, but after reading your article, my understanding has improved substantially!

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