by Donna Scharfenberg, Service Strategies
Listening is not the absence of talking, but the presence of attention. Listening is not simply hearing, it is a matter of understanding. It requires participation, action, and effort. Listening is the glue that holds conversations together. And it is absolutely essential for effective leadership. Here are 10 valuable tips to increase your listening skills:
1. Follow this sequence when you are listening: 1) hear, 2) understand, 3) interpret, and 4) respond.
2. When you are listening, the other person is most important. Concentrate on them, not on you.
3. Focus on understanding the speaker’s meaning instead of preparing your response.
4. Identify your biggest obstacle to listening, such as lack of time. List three things you can do to overcome that obstacle.
5. When you are on the phone, pay attention to the other person. Avoid reading your email or doing other work. Close your eyes while you listen if you are easily distracted.
6. Use a speakerphone only for conference calls or when absolutely necessary. Many people dislike the public nature of a speakerphone and assume you are not giving them your full attention. It also inhibits them from bringing up sensitive issues or concerns.
7. Reschedule a conversation if you cannot give the other person your undivided attention.
8. Avoid interrupting people; wait until they have finished.
9. Don’t bring extra work to meetings. Focus on the issues and the other people at the meeting.
10. Adapt your listening behaviors to reflect cultural differences.