“Hi, how are you today?” “Not much.”
Wait! What?- Most of us have been on one or both sides of this interaction at some point.
Everybody wants to have their say. But are we so eager to speak at times that we forget to listen to others? Hearing is automatic, it just happens. Listening is on purpose, it’s a skill that needs to be honed. It is a skill that far too many of us don’t put enough emphasis on. Can you reflect on a time when you had something important to say but felt like the person was just not paying attention? I hear you, it’s frustrating. More importantly, what about the time when someone was speaking to you and you stopped to look at your phone because it dinged?
Listening may be one of the most important interpersonal skills to excel at. Studies show that we may only remember 25% of what someone said to us immediately after hearing it. If we practice our active listening skills regularly we stand to gain a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to…
- Improve your relationships
- Increase your productivity
- Avoid misunderstandings
- Increase your job effectiveness
Sounds like a win!
Active listening requires more senses than just hearing. We listen with our eyes, posture, and yes, our mouths. Eye contact is crucial (that means don’t look at your phone) to show that we are engaged. Open posture and an occasional reaffirming nod gives the speaker confidence that we are paying attention. Inserting a “mmm hmmm” or “uh huh” shows that we are supportive, and listening to what they say.
You’re probably ready for your turn to speak, but hear me out. All too often we are busy planning what we are going to say next without waiting for the other to finish. If we are preoccupied with our response we are back to that 25% again. Ask for clarity if there is something that needs more explaining, this will strengthen your understanding and recall. Remember key points and summarize them back to the speaker in their words, they will appreciate how well you paid attention. No one likes to be interrupted. Hold your tongue and wait your turn.
If all of this has fallen on deaf ears then please do just one thing.
Think about how you want to be listened to and give that respect to others.