Hey, listen up...Want to really accelerate AND sustain your career success?
Then, you've GOT to be a highly effective listener. As a leader, LISTENING skills are MORE IMPORTANT than your speaking skills...No question. You learn much more from listening -- you pick up details and key information that you tend to if you don't really dial into what the other person is saying. Others feel much more comfortable with you if they feel like you care about THEM -- whether you listen, attentively, is one signal that others note in their personal evaluation of your level of care and concern about them.
Listening is a skill, like any other, that almost comes naturally for some and is a real challenge for others. My personality style has always been more so on the introvert side of the scale as opposed to the extrovert side. Because I tend to be quieter, by nature, I also find that I tend to tune in more to what others are saying. To encourage others to say more and to take the "pressure" off of me having to say more, I also tend to ask lots of questions.
What is your listening style? Do you tend to talk more or listen more?
Here are 10 ways which can help you become a better listener...
1. Listen for ideas and central themes. Search for the speaker's central theme or main points instead of getting lost in, or reacting to, the supportive details.
2. Judge content, not delivery. Focus, to your best ability, on what the speaker is saying and try not to be unduly influenced by their way of saying or delivering the message.
3. Search for areas of interest. It is extremely easy to tune out from a speaker, so work on sharing his or her enthusiasm. Search for new ideas or insights which might be beneficial to you.
4. Don't jump to conclusions. It's easy to assume that you know the rest of a sentence or message after hearing the beginning. Avoid prejudging a message, so you can receive and evaluate the whole message.
5. Take notes. By taking notes you sharpen your reception, understanding, and, of course, retention of the information.
6. Concentrate and resist distraction. External distractions include non-related things you can see or hear, or which may be impacting your other senses. Internal distractions occur when your mind wanders into unrelated memories or shifts its focus to worries, plans, or anticipations. Stay focused.
7. Use the fast pace of thought to your advantage. Most people can think three or four times faster than they speak. Don't let your quick mind indulge in all sorts of thoughts unrelated to the conversation. Capitalize on your thinking speed by actively sensing, interpreting, evaluating, and summarizing the messages being received.
8. Check your emotions. It has been said that the intellect is the slave to emotions. Be sensitive to things that trigger your emotions and increase your efforts to focus on a clear reception and understanding of what is being said.
9. Exercise your mind. You can turn away and tune out from complicated or difficult subjects, or you can intellectually wrestle with complex information so that you will have a chance to grow and strengthen your own intellect.
10. Work at listening. Be an active listener. Follow the above suggestions. Ask questions and seek clarification. Actively share in the speaker's efforts to improve your level of understanding, whether or not you think you agree.