At the end of this lesson, you should be able to identify and improve your listening skills.
Listening is the First Element of Communication
Some people are great speakers – entertaining and inspiring those around them through magical storytelling. But being a good listener is an even more important skill. Both good listening and bad listening have a remarkable impact on others.
Listening goes beyond the sender’s words and accent, and delves into a deeper level of understanding. To be clear about the sender’s thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, you need to actively listen.
What Makes a Good Listener?
- Paying attention - good listening means your mind is quiet.
- Focusing on the person - see the person talking to you.
- Knowing your role - every communication has a purpose and you have a role to play. Understand what that is, and your communication will be clearer.
- Hearing the words - what is the content of the communication?
- Hearing more than the words – what are the feelings behind the words?
- No interrupting - it really is just rude.
- Being self-aware – know your own bias. Sometimes we make up our minds about what someone is going to say before they even start. Be open to listening to the person.
- Building rapport – make the connection.
- Having empathy - put yourself in the other person's shoes.
- Acknowledging that you are hearing.
- Getting clarity if you need to.
- Giving feedback appropriately.
Have you ever been in conversation with an exceptionally good listener? Didn't you feel warm and fuzzy and important? That is what you are aiming for.
You would look like a freak if you had two mouths and one ear! Yet, we often fall into the trap of speaking more than listening. Here is a challenge for you: For the next week, try to actively listen for double the time you speak and observe what happens.
Complete the introspective quiz below to improve your listening skills.