Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Active Listening

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. Epictetus

In this series of posts are my reflections on the behaviors of successful people that are worthy of emulation...

We have previously identified that

Successful people are
  • Congruent
  • Present
  • Suspend Judgement
  • Cultivate Positive Thoughts
  • Understand the Power of Words
  • Are Physically Fit
  • Make the Best Use of Their Time
  • Study Successful Role Models
  • Listen
  • Serve Others

Listening is an important skill; in fact, it may be one of the most important skills we ever develop. How well we listen has a major impact on our effectiveness, and on the quality of our relationships with others.

We listen to obtain information.
We listen to understand.
We listen for enjoyment.
We listen to learn.

Unfortunately, most of us do not listen very well.  We spend a lot of time tuning out.  Thankfully, there are simple actions we can undertake to enhance our listening skills.

Our bodies, especially our faces give speakers many clues about our interest level. 

The first thing we can do to be a good listener is to act like a good listener
Begin by looking at the other person. Our eyes pick up the non-verbal signals that people send out when they are speaking.

When we have established eye and face contact with the speaker, we must then react to the speaker by sending out non-verbal signals. Our face must move and give the range of emotions that indicate whether we are following what the speaker has to say. By moving our face to the information, we can better concentrate on what the person is saying. Staying focused and concentrating on what the speaker is saying is important to being an active listener.

Our thoughts move about four times as fast as speech. With practice, while we are listening we will also be able to think about what we are hearing, really understand it, and give feedback to the speaker.

Tips for Being an Active Listener
  • Be truly interested - Give your full attention to the person who is speaking.
  • Concentrate on what the speaker is saying.  Let the speaker finish before responding. Speakers appreciate having the chance to complete their thoughts without being interrupted.
  • Finish listening before beginning to speak! We can't really listen if we are distracted by what we're going to say next.
  • Ask questions to clarify what the speaker said.  It helps to paraphrase what the speaker said in our own words.
  • Give feedback. Sit up straight and look directly at the speaker. Now and then, nod to show that you understand. At appropriate points you may also smile, frown, laugh, or be silent. These are all ways to let the speaker know that you are really listening. Remember, you listen with your face as well as your ears!

Becoming a better listener, improves our productivity, as well as our ability to influence, persuade and negotiate. In the end, active listening improves our chances for success!


No comments:

Post a Comment