Did you know that people in general do not know how to be a good listener? We have ears that hear well but we do not use them to really listen and comprehend what others are telling us. Studies have shown that we retain only half of what is told to us, and yes, that is immediately after hearing the message.
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, first you must care what the other person has to say. You watch their body language and verbal cues. Next we process and try to understand what they are saying. At this point, you may nod or acknowledge you understand what they are saying even though you may not agree with their message.
Listening is an Art
How can we become an impeccable listener, especially with so many “devices” at our fingertips which distract us?
- Let the person speak and complete their thoughts and ideas before responding.
- Why not be comfortable with silence? When you are fully present and listening, you are in a much better position to respond and voice your opinion or share thoughts.
- If you are a participant in a meeting, take notes. Capture what the speaker is saying and write down your thoughts and comments. This prevents interruptions which may cause delays or frustrations. Find the right moment to state your opinions.
- Put your phone away or close your laptop and give someone the gift of your undivided attention. May eye contact.
- Try visualizing the persons words as they are speaking. Actively listen. This will go a long way to help you focus on what they are saying instead of trying to formulate how you are going to respond.
- Act interested. Even if you are not, be courteous. It is rude to show that you are bored.
- Recognize your own behaviors. Are you an extrovert? Do you do most of the talking? If so, try slowing down a bit (see # 1 and # 2). Are you super organized and efficient and planning your next meeting or looking at your to do list?
We can’t control how someone speaks to us or the message they want to share, but we all can become better listeners.
To learn more about business etiquette training, click here.