How many times have you read that “active listening” is a key skill for managing relationships effectively? But are you a good listener? I know that I am not!
When someone comes for help or just wants to share something with you, do you have the tendency to want to jump in with your point of view? Or are you overly judgemental? Or, worse still, do you lose interest or start thinking about something else and not really listen at all?
Here are 4 simple tips to try next time you have a conversation with someone who wants you to really listen to what they have to say:-
1. Focus fully on the speaker. Focus on their body language and how they are transmitting the message. No phones, no distractions.
2. Avoid interrupting. This is my personal worses habit. Firmly close your mouth whilst listening, to avoid speaking yourself. Make a note of the points you want to make for later in the conversation, remaining silent. Change your goal in the situation as being to listen fully rather than speak.
3. Avoid being judgemental. You may think you know the answers or have suggestions to help, but first wait and hear the whole story. Avoid drawing conclusions.
4. Show your interest. Look the speaker in the eyes, nod and repeat key points back if appropriate. All of this will help transmit you are really paying attention.
It takes an effort, but it is really worth trying.
Good listeners are so rare that it sets them apart from the rest, especially when it comes to leadership.
Give it a try and see if you can really, truly listen to someone else.