Good listening skills are one of the most important traits of a successful leader. By listening intently to what others say, you can learn a great deal of valuable information that can help you learn, and that often can help the person talking to you, as well.
One way to improve both your listening skills and your credibility as a good listener is to learn to listen without judgment. When others can trust you to listen without judgment, they will be more likely to confide in you and seek your feedback.
Listening without judgment means not jumping to conclusions or forming opinions about what is being said. This form of listening allows you to absorb all of the material being presented to you, rather than making a decision about what you hear midway through the conversation.
To improve your skills in listening without judgment, try the following tips.
- Don’t interrupt. Don’t jump in to finish the person’s sentence, even though you may think it shows that you understand what the person is saying. Don’t ask questions, unless these are absolutely necessary to clarify what is being said.
- Ask appropriate clarification questions when the person is finished in order to ensure you understand what is being said.
- Ask “Why” a person feels the way they do if you don’t understand.
- Do not give feedback, unless specifically asked.
- Never tell a person he or she is wrong for their feelings.
Of course, you will form opinions on the things you hear. You may need to take action on what you hear and even decide if what you’ve heard is inappropriate or outside important rules in some way. However, by listening without making judgment until the end of the conversation, you will have a more complete perspective before you form an opinion. You will give yourself the opportunity to understand the person’s motives and feelings behind their words.
Learning to listen without judging will make you a better and more respected leader. It will also give you better decision making skills because you will have a much better understanding of circumstances before you decide. Take the time to hone your listening skills- it’s a practice you will be happy you did.