One of the most important skills you can learn if you want to build positive relationships in the workplace and at home is to be a good listener. Listening involves showing a measure of interest in what is being said and it makes the other person feel important.
In our daily lives, it’s is important to listen to others and understand what is being said. For example, you may hear instructions about how to carry out an important assignment. Or, you may have to listen to a customer’s complaints and take the appropriate action. Sometimes you may attend a conference and listen to expert advice from a keynote speaker. Even in our personal lives, it’s important to listen to our partners and family members.
The first important lesson in being a good listener is that there is a difference between listening to what is being said and hearing the words. Listening involves more than just hearing, it involves taking specific action on or responding appropriately to what is heard.
How can you become a better listener and therefore be respected by those around you? Here are some ways to listen to others.
One of the first signs that others know you are interested in what they have to say and that you are listening is eye contact. Maintaining good eye contact throughout the conversation also helps you pick up on non-verbal types of communication. Of course, don’t stare at the person so that they become embarrassed, but keep natural friendly eye contact.
Avoid the temptation to let your mind wander if you are not interested in what the other person has to say. People will notice if you drift off and start thinking about other things. Especially if they ask you a question and you have to respond.
Even if the information you hear isn’t important or relevant, you will show respect to the other person if you listen attentively to what they are saying.
It is tempting to start formulating your response while the person is still speaking. Try to avoid giving signals while they are speaking that you want to respond. This will only give the impression that you have stopped listening.
Before responding, it is always good to wait a couple of seconds rather than “jumping in” at the first opportunity. This is true especially if you are talking on the phone. You can’t see the person and you could start talking too early before the other person has finished their thought.
Remember that whatever a person is talking about, it is usually important to them. So, try to show that you care about what is being said, even though the subject may not interest you. One excellent way to do this is to ask questions. This shows that you value the person as an individual and you get valuable insight into their personality.
Listening attentively and asking questions may help you understand underlying messages that the person is saying. For example, most people are looking for support, encouragement, and advice when they talk. So, even if the subject doesn’t interest you, if you pick up on the underlying signals, you may be able to offer the precise solution to the person’s problem.
In business meetings or informal group discussions, don’t start talking about something else unless the topic is finished. Doing so shows a lack of interest in the discussion and lack of respect for the others in the group. This will also just side-track the whole discussion and you probably will never come to the best solution to the topic being discussed.
So, being a good listener doesn’t just mean learning a few tricks to give the impression that you are interested. It calls for showing genuine interest in the person speaking and a willingness to be part of a meaningful conversation.
There are many keynote speakers in our portfolio who have great life-coaching skills who can help you and your company’s employees sharpen their communication skills. These can help your business become more efficient in customer relations, time management, and communications.