Listening is key to all effective communication, without the ability to listen effectively messages are easily misunderstood – communication breaks down and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated.
Applying active listening, allows you and other individuals to engage in a dialogue where you are both equipped with clarity and understanding of the purpose, content and outcome of the discussion.
Nature is clearly telling us that we should listen twice as much as we talk as we have two ears and one mouth. It is impossible to find out what someone is thinking if you are doing all the talking. Listening is a key communication and empathy skill. Keys to becoming a more effective and emphatic listener include:
Take Time to Listen and Be Attentive
Often we are so preoccupied in our busyness that we only pretend to listen. Take time to really concentrate. Listen with both ears. When an employee comes into your office or stops you in the hall, stop what you are doing (if it is a convenient time), make eye contact, and really listen. You will be surprised how much more effective the exchange will be and how much time is saved in the long run.
You can’t listen if your mouth is moving, so be quiet while the other person is speaking. Wait until they complete their thought or sentence before you begin to ask clarification questions or answer the question at hand. If you rearrange the letters that spell, listen, you get silent! Remember that when someone else is talking with you.
Listen with an Open Mind
Selective listening (hearing only what matches your views and interests) limits your ability to learn, grow, and achieve. Listening with an open mind increases your ability to understand and respond effectively. Your openness will create such noticeable rapport that the other person will be inclined to listen to you with equal sensitivity.
Listen for Emotions
People tend to repeat those things that are important to them. Listen not only to what they say, but how they say it. Voices express emotion through pitch, intonation, hesitation, and speed of delivery. By listening to what people say, and how they say it, you will discover that feelings behind the words.
Listen for Retention
How often have you wanted to tell a good joke or story that you had heard but simply couldn’t remember it? On those occasions you probably wished you knew how to increase your memory retention. Well, there is a way. While you are listening, occasionally summarize in your mind the highlights that you’re hearing. This will increase your understanding and your retention. Verbalizing your summarized to the speaker from time to time will also confirm the accuracy of the communications. The speaker sill appreciate your carefulness, as long as your purpose is to assure understanding.