Listening Skills for Success
Effective communication skills require both speaking and strong listening skills. While most people have the speaking part down; few can tune out the noise and truly listen.
Our environment has become so distracting with all of the technology surrounding us that many people have difficulty concentrating on their work and communicating with others. The cost of communication breakdown is lost sales, lost opportunities, misunderstandings, bad customer service and hurt feelings.
What can you do to help improve your listening skills? Plenty. Consider the following strategies:
1. Remove all Distractions.
This seems obvious, but the mere temptation to multi-task constantly interrupts our focus. Create an environment conducive to listening and get mentally prepared by removing distractions. Close your office door, turn off your computer monitor, disable your e-mail notification, and turn off music and cell phones. Give the person you are speaking to your full attention.
2. Get into the habit of not responding.
Mentally tell yourself not to respond and to concentrate on what the other person is saying. Repeat what the person says to ensure that you understand. Let people finish their sentence or thought before you respond. Practice taking a breath before you respond to their question or problem. This will give you more time to think of an appropriate response and help you appear thoughtful.
3. Listen to comprehend.
Be aware that most people listen with the intent to reply. In order to help you stay focused on the conversation, listen to comprehend, not to reply. This is especially important when you’re listening to a client with a problem or when you’re learning something new. Changing your intent from “listening to respond” to “listening to comprehend” will help you focus.
When you really listen to people, you will experience more meaningful communication with others.