Listening is one of those things that we all know about and we all understand but how well do we do it. Let me give you a simple test … answer the following truthfully
- Question 1: – Have you ever been in a meeting, where you feel your time is been wasted by an individual talking on a particular subject?
- Question 2: – You are in a meeting and you have just come up with a great idea, and you can’t wait to air it?
- Question 3: – You are in a meeting on where you think the point been made is not worthwhile?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you are NOT a good listener. Why you might ask? The concept of listening is not about retaining information but more focused on the relationship that can be develop with those around you.
Unfortunately, most of us focus more on the speaking than they do on the listening. Whether in a one-on-one conversation or a group meeting, focusing on what others are saying allows you to present yourself more effectively. When you listen correctly, you learn more about the other person. Listening fully – or actively means putting everything else out of your mind and acknowledging the other person so that you are putting the person first (in your thought process) rather than the information. By answering yes to the question about, you are putting the information first.
Here are some tips on how to be more meaningful with your listening skills:
- Be more respectful: – The best listeners recognise that they cannot succeed without seeking out information from those around them and they let those people know that they are important to you. When you show respect for other people’s ideas, they’re more likely to reciprocate. They’re also more likely to continue to share their ideas, which fosters growth and increases the likelihood of success.
- Talk less than you listen: – Use an adoption of the 80/20 (Pareto’s) rule, which is that your colleague should be speaking 80% of the time, while you should be speaking only 20% of the time. Also try to use this 20% of the time asking questions rather than trying to have your own say.
- Challenge assumptions: – It is often noted that good listeners seek to understand and challenge the assumptions that underpin the conversation. One of the cornerstones of good listening is that in order to get what you need to know from your conversations and make good decisions, you must be willing to challenge long-held assumptions. Just because something has always been done in a certain way in the past doesn’t mean there isn’t an equally good or better way to do it.
These three points can often relate to a change of attitude which is not an easy feat to accomplish. We all have to acknowledge that it’s difficult to suppress our own urge to speak more than listen, with practice and patience you can learn to control the urge and improve the quality and effectiveness of your dialogues by understanding the the right time to get involved. Some people are better listeners than others, however, we can all become better listeners by firstly accepting what listening is and secondly by trying to understand on how to do it better.