Listening skills are a highly desirable trait. Improving listening skills is talked about constantly and when there is a failure, misinterpreting the message is usually the cause. With listening being such a hot topic and desirable trait, why do so few do it well?
Some people listen to respond. Some people mistakenly think they can multi-task while listening. Others will show signs of listening but do not comprehend or are not clarifying what was heard.
There are many types of positive listening:
- Informational – Listening to learn
- Critical – Listening to evaluate
- Empathetic – Listening to understand and feeling emotion
- Active – Listening to the words and understanding the complete message
Far too often people will listen, not to understand, but with the intent to reply. This is a dangerous approach to listening especially for people in leadership roles. When you are listening with the intent of replying you aren’t learning anything. Leaders should seek to understand first before making a decision based on assumptions.
While working to improve your listening skills try following these tips.
- If you are being interrupted and can’t stop what you are doing ask them to come back. If you decide to move forward and help them, give them your full attention.
- Repeat the question or statement back to them so they know you understood.
- Ask clarifying questions and stay absolutely quiet, don’t talk over them and let them finish their thought before you respond.
- Empathize with them by demonstrating concern for their point of view.
The opportunities to listen in a given day are endless. There is a lot to be learned and much to be gained if only we would listen… and listen… then listen some more.
More Actionable Advice:
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