Ever had anyone tell you that you hear, but don’t listen? Most of us have had experiences where we’ve heard someone talking to us, but didn’t get what they were saying. Or have you had to ask someone to repeat something they just told you ten minutes ago?
Nine times out of ten, it’s not because you’re stupid, or because the topic is over your head. It’s because you weren’t listening to what the other person had to say.
Here are 5 tips on how to improve your listening skills:
1. Ignore Distractions. Distractions play a large role in why we don’t listen to what someone is saying. A good listener is able to ignore what’s going on around them in order to get the speaker’s message. Make contact with the speaker’s eyes. Lean forward in your chair to get closer to the speaker. And turn your chair to avoid being distracted if you must.
2. Save Your Rebuttal. During the course of a conversation, you’ll most likely hear something that you simply have to refute or respond to. Most people either interrupt the speaker or tune them out while they wait for their turn to respond. The consequence is that you don’t get the speaker’s full message. When you hear something you want to respond to, make a mental note and then re-focus back on the speaker until you’ve absorbed everything they had to say. Too often they’ve addressed your response, but you were too busy just waiting for an opportunity to zing them.
3. Ignore Their Delivery. Not everyone is a good speaker. Some people speak slowly, some stutter and some fumble around their words taking forever to get to their point. It’s easy to stare at the back wall or anything else when people aren’t speaking to your satisfaction, but situations arise when you simply must deal with people AND listen to what they have to say. The trick is to focus on what they’re saying rather than how they’re saying it. Really concentrate on their words and their delivery style will disappear.
4. Turn Gadgets Off. Of course you can’t be expected to turn off every gadget you own every time someone wants to have a conversation with you. But if it’s vital that you get the message, then turn off the cell phone, pager and MP3 player so you can focus on what you’re supposed to be hearing. It also looks unprofessional to have your phone ring when you’re in the middle of an important discussion – so do get into the habit of shutting things off before important meetings.
5. Drop Your Prejudices. Chances are that when a republican engages in a conversation with a democrat, either one or both sides won’t hear the other’s message through their prejudices. If you really want to hear the other person, you have to drop your pre-conceived thoughts and notions so you can actually listen to what they have to say.
Hearing might be natural, but good listening skills are learned. With a little practice and these tips, you won’t have to constantly be saying, “Huh?”
Thanks to Tip Diva for including this post in the Carnival of Tips, to E3 Success Systems for featuring this post in the Carnival of Success Principles, and to Energies of Creation for inclusion in the Carnival of Creative Growth.