We can all be more effective communicators by using our ears more than our mouths. Be honest, how much have you ever learned listening to yourself talk?
We often think that good communicators are good speakers; however, the most powerful communicators have excellent listening skills. Of course, there are some tips of effective communication that extend beyond simply listening, although this element is absolutely crucial. Many people take the skill of listening for granted. You have ears, so you listen all the time, right? But you need to ask yourself how well you listen.
Nurture the conversation with a caring ear
Not only do you gather valuable information when you listen, you show respect for others. Good listening skills are just as valuable at work as they are at home. For instance, parents who listen actively to their children nurture a sense of self-worth and confidence to help them grow. Every parent knows that simply hearing what their child says is not enough. They need to focus their full attention on the child and listen actively to hear the words, interpret the meaning and encourage the conversation.
At work, tuning in to your clients and colleagues will have the same benefits. In our communication skills workshops, we teach the importance of listening to foster strong business relationships.
Fine-tune your listening skills with these tips:
1. Be patient – You may be very anxious to blurt out your thoughts while someone else is sharing theirs but don’t do it! Avoid the temptation to interject your opinion until the speaker has had a chance to complete their thought.
2. Listen with an empathetic ear – Listening effectively is not easy. You need to focus. Listen for the words and the feelings, as then you will be able to fully understand what the problems are so that you can resolve them in the proper manner. Make sure that you wear your hearing amplifier if you are hard of hearing so you are able to clearly hear what the person is saying to you, without missing any details.
3. Be attentive – Use your body language to look interested, not distracted. Don’t send signals that your mind is elsewhere. Relax your posture and maintain good eye contact to show that you are fully engaged in the conversation.
Do you have any strategies you use to be an active, engaged listener? Please share in the comments!