Listening Beyond Words by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC
Listening is an important skill that many of us have not truly mastered. We may believe we’re good listeners, yet still miss many of the nuances that go on in every conversation. When you can improve your listening skills, you’ll find that you’re far more in tune to what’s really going on. You’ll also find that you are more respected and revered as a leader. Here are some things you can do to improve your listening skills starting with your very next conversation.
1. Listen without formulating a response. Very often, we are already thinking about what we’re going to say next, before the person has even finished speaking. Don’t begin to formulate your answer until the other person has finished. This will help you catch every word, as well as formulate a more well thought out response.
2. Listen without judging. Don’t spend your time thinking about how you feel about what the person is saying. Just hear them out.
3. Read between the lines. Body language, facial expression and tone of voice are all important to the overall communication you’re having with the other person. Pay attention to all of these parts of the conversation. It will help you to better understand the meaning behind the words.
4. Have an open mind. We often come into a conversation with the belief that we know what the person is going to say, or that we already understand their perspective. We may immediately anticipate how the conversation is going to turn out. We may go into it with a pre-set agenda. All of these things can cause us to not truly hear what the other person is trying to say. Go into every conversation believing that the other person is about to say something you need to hear. Then listen carefully and think objectively about what they have to say.
It is common for people to feel unheard. We often rush to judge or respond to what someone else is saying because we want to make sure we get our own message across. But, when you relax and truly listen to what someone else has to say, you may find that there is much less need for you to fret over your opinion being heard. Instead, you’re likely to find there’s far more common ground than you imagined.