What can you do to prepare to be a good listener
The tips for being a good listener are as follows:
- Give your full attention to the person who is speaking. Don’t look out the window or at what else is going on in the room.
- Make sure your mind is focused, too. It can be easy to let your mind wander if you think you know what the person is going to say next, but you might be wrong! If you feel your mind wandering, change the position of your body and try to concentrate on the speaker’s words.
- Let the speaker finish before you begin to talk. Speakers appreciate having the chance to say everything they would like to say without being interrupted. When you interrupt, it looks like you aren’t listening, even if you are.
- Let yourself finish listening before you begin to speak! You can’t listen if you are busy thinking about what you want to say next.
- Listen for the main ideas. The main ideas are the most important points the speaker wants to get across. They may be mentioned at the start or end of a talk and repeated several times. Pay special attention to statements that begin with phrases such as “My point is…” or “The thing to remember is
- Ask questions. If you are not sure you understand what the speaker has said, just ask. It is a good idea to repeat in your own words what the speaker said so that you can be sure your understanding is correct. For example, you might say, “When you said that no two zebras are alike, did you mean that the stripes are different on each one?”
- 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 listening. Remember, you listen with your face as well as your ears! Remember time is on your side! Thoughts move about four times as fast as speech. With practice, while you are listening you will also be able to think about what you are hearing, really understand it, and give feedback to the speaker.
Listening is one of the most important skills you can have. How well you listen has a major impact on your job effectiveness and the quality of your relationships with others.
- We listen to obtain information.
- We listen to understand.
- We listen for enjoyment.
- We listen to learn.
Given all this listening we do, you would think we’d be good at it! Most of us are not, and research suggests that we remember between 25 per cent and 50 per cent of what we hear. That means that when you talk to your boss, colleagues, customers or spouse for 10 minutes, they pay attention to less than half of the conversation. This is dismal! Turn it around and it reveals that when you are receiving directions or being presented with information, you aren’t hearing the whole message either. You hope the important parts are captured in your 25-50 per cent, but what if they’re not? Listening is a skill that we can all benefit from improving. By becoming a better listener, you will improve your productivity, as well as your ability to influence, persuade and negotiate. What’s more, you’ll avoid conflict and misunderstandings. All of these are necessary for workplace success!