The Top 10 Tools for Effective Listening
Whether it's our spouse, our children, or with a sales prospect or our boss, one of life's great challenges is to listen well. Often, we are tempted to think about our response rather than listen. Or, we believe we already know what the other person is going to say, so we simply interrupt or wait impatiently for our turn. Listening, really listening, with our whole being, is a skill and one of the most important compliments we can give another human being. The following 10 "rules" can help.
It is difficult to listen and speak at the same
Put the other
person at ease. Give them space and time
and "permission" to speak their peace. How we look at them, how
we stand or sit, makes a huge difference. Relax, and let them relax as
Show the other
person that you want to hear them. Look at
them. Nod when you can agree, ask them to explain further if you don't
understand. Listen to understand them and their words, rather than just
for your turn.
distractions. Good listening means being
willing to turn off the TV, close a door, or stop reading your mail. Give
the speaker your full attention, and let them know they are getting your
the other person. Especially if they
are telling you something personal or painful, or something you intensely
disagree with, take a moment to stand in their shoes, to look at the
situation from their point of view.
Some people take longer to find the right word,
to make a point or clarify an issue. Give the speaker time to get it all
out before you jump in with your reply.
Watch your own
emotions. If what they are saying creates
an emotional response in you, be extra careful to listen carefully, with
attention to the intent and full meaning of their words. When we are
angry, frightened or upset, we often miss critical parts of what is being
said to us.
Be very slow
to disagree, criticize or argue. Even if
you disagree, let them have their point of view. If you respond in a way
that makes the other person defensive, even if you "win" the
argument, you may lose something far more valuable!
Ask lots of
questions. Ask the speaker to clarify, to
say more, give an example, or explain further. It will help them speak
more precisely and it will help you hear and understand them more
STOP TALKING! This is both the first and the last point, because all other tools depend on it. Nature gave us two ears and only one tongue, which is a gentle hint that we should listen twice as much as we talk..
Written by Dr. Philip E. Humbert, writer, speaker and success coach. Dr. Humbert has over 300 free articles, tools and resources for your success, including a great newsletter! It's all on his website at: http://www.philiphumbert.com