We all want to listen better. So why do we find it so hard to do? We are often either thinking too much about what we want to say next or talking too much.
Let’s look at 6 things we need to remind ourselves to do in order to be a better listener.
- Listen First
Plan to listen first. The best way to remember to listen is to go into the situation planning to be the one to listen first. Of course you’ll need to talk too, but it will be more in response to what the other person has already said to you.
It’s amazing how many people have trouble looking you in the eye while they talk to you. You need to be the one taking the initiative and make eye contact, show that they are your one focus at this moment. Look at the whole person, watching, and at times mirroring their body language.
- Seek to Understand
Look and listen to know not just what is being said, but also how it’s being said, and the point the other person is trying to make. Try to empathize with them, seeking to understand the situation from their point of view.
- Ask Questions
While you are seeking to understand, the best first thing you can say, is a question about what the other person is saying. Questions give you a chance to steer the conversation and at the same time let the one talking clarify their point. Your questions can often help the speaker gain new insights into what they are talking about.
- Don’t Interrupt
In order to ask a question, it would seem that we would need to interrupt. Knowing the best time to interject is an art form. The key is the ability to tell the difference from a natural break in the conversation from the pregnant pause someone takes to find the right word.
- Take Notes
One last way to make it easier to listen is to take notes—just quick, short keywords and ideas the other person is talking about. Then when the appropriate moment comes to ask a question, you’ll have several cues to the best place to take the conversation.
Which of these six are you already doing? How have they worked for you?
Which of these do could you start doing? How can you remember to add it to your next meeting?