Everyone wants to be heard and understood. But sadly, we seem to devote less and less time to really listening to one another—at work and in our personal lives. Having solid listening skills helps you to solve problems, ensures understanding, improves accuracy and builds better relationships. It means less wasted time and fewer errors.
Listening skills are essential professionally and personally. Here’s how to sharpen yours.
4 Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills
We’ve all been in a conversation where you know the other person isn’t really listening to you. It’s annoying, frustrating and downright disrespectful. When someone is speaking it’s crucial to be fully in the moment with them. Don’t let your mind wander about the things you need to get at the grocery store later or that text you need to answer. Instead, listen…really, really listen. And don’t forget to pay attention to body language since it speaks volumes too. Watch their facial expressions, tone of voice and eye contact . They’re equally as important as the words themselves.
Pay close attention the other’s speaking style.
Every single person has a completely different speaking style than you. Pay attention to how they’re speaking—do they speak fast or slow? Loud or quiet? Do they talk with their hands? Do they look you in the eye? It’s useful to mirror the posture and speaking style of the person you’re speaking to. Don’t go overboard and mimic what the other person is saying, but try small mirroring tricks like folding your hands in the same way or speaking at the same tone level. Mirroring is a subconscious way to let the other person know that you’re truly listening and in the moment with them.
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Wait your turn
Taking turns should be a normal part of the ebb and flow of conversation but you’ll find that it’s difficult to stop yourself from jumping in and talking when you want to say something. But learning how to suppress the urge to voice your thoughts the moment they form improves our listening skills. Let the other person talk, practice those listening skills and L-I-S-T-E-N. There’s a time and a place for interruption and you’ll know when you get a signal that it’s your turn to talk.
Show them you’re listening
Don’t be stone-faced or give the person speaking a blank stare. No one feels valued or listened to that way. Show that you’re listening and that you’re engaged and interested in what’s being said, visibly and audibly. Here are some things you can do to show others that you’re really listening:
- Nod your head
- Lean forward
- Always maintain eye contact
- Take notes when appropriate
- Ask clarifying questions, such as “when you say this, do you mean…?”
- Give affirmations like “yes” or “mm-hmm”
- Answer questions if asked
Did you know that good listening and successful leading go hand-in-hand? Now that you’ve learned how to hone those listening skills, you’re ready to take your leadership skills to the next level! Be proactive about your leadership development and find training opportunities for yourself. The CEU Group provides access to discounted continuing education courses for a wide variety of healthcare providers and groups of professionals. Discover more here!
References: https://www.fastcompany.com/3036026/5-ways-to-improve-your-listening-skills, https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2012/11/09/10-steps-to-effective-listening/#61bdee343891, http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/05/08/listen-up-part-ii-15-techniques-to-improve-our-listening/