It occurred to me that with listening being as important as it is to success, we might need to stop and investigate how to listen properly and effectively. This is always a good thing to ponder over and consider, so that we can identify if our listening skills are in tip-top shape. So here are my top five tips for listening better! Hope they are intuitive for you, or easy to instantly apply adopt for your good fortune!
How to Listen#1~ Be teachable! A good listener enters into every conversation with a personal motive to discover! What can you learn about this person, situation, or circumstance? What is the goal, motivation, focus, areas of penetration or need? How can you help develop the argument or the solution! Both are important in problem solving!
#2~ Be accountable! Make sure that you repeat back what you have discovered so that you can then take responsibility for the role you will or will not play in it. A person who feels you understand their uniqueness, needs, and problems will likely trust you to solve them! Make sure you interject with validating phrases, such as, "So you are saying that", "Just so I can be clear that I am understanding", "Let me verify that I understand this right", "I am not sure I see your total vantage point, can you further explain", or "Just so I can be the most help to you in solving your problem, it seems as though you are saying". Be careful not to paraphrase exactly, as it can come across and disingenuous, and you definitely don't want them to discover you are practicing your listening skills on them.
#3~ Listening is 70% eye contact! If you are on the phone this is hard! Make deliberate efforts to have important talks face to face! Skype can help with this if you are a technical consultant! If not, make sure you dialogue enough, so that the relationship has time to manifest. This requires an effort to let them talk, and to give them the freedom to digress. Authenticity happens in the details.
#4~ Listening is hands-free! Put down the gadgets, phones, ipads, computers, or any other little distraction that will steal your audiences' confidence in your interest, and your attention! If you are like me, and you struggle with paying attention, then you need to make extra measures to do this!
#5~ Listening is active! It grows, develops, shows, and remembers! A tool for this is helpful. I use #NIMBLECRM to record relevant details about my audience, so that I can revisit, resuse, and re-encounter our comfortable place over and over again. You can do this, too, and it is necessary to be fully engaged and effective!
The final part to listening is conveying that you have done so! Here are five queues you give to your audience that you heard them and understood what they said!
How to Convey#1~ You are important enough for me to think about! If you cannot see the big picture after the first conversation, let them know that they are important enough for your to study and research the best possible situation for them. Since they feel you have confidently responded earlier that you understand their needs, most people will greatly appreciate a well thought out plan, and not a quick answer. Stay away from quick answers! They hurt your reputation and your relationship.
#2~ Take some time to teach! If you feel that the problem is only developed partially, and my have additionally areas that will be affected, take the time to explain additional considerations, ideas, thoughts, and possible limitations that might pose a problem to the solution.
#3~ Take the time to come up with examples they relay your thoughts! Have some ideas on hand that can be expressed in tangible ways. Sometimes words can get muddled, but people understand real life situations or examples. Have a few to spare.
#4~ Don't give away too much info. It's scary, and un-necessary. Be careful that they don't find you intimidating and run for the hills.
#5~ When in doubt, hold your fire! The less you say about a concept or a thought you haven't fully considered, the wiser you appear. The wiser you appear, the wiser you are. Don't speak before your think.