Although we live in a digital age, a huge amount of business is still done face to face (or by telephone), and with our increasingly busy lives we all still need to remember how to slow down and LISTEN every now and again! How often have you been in a meeting and realised that you’re not paying attention because you’re thinking about all the other things you need to do?! I think that’s something we can all relate to.
However – in the long run – any time you spend speaking to people and NOT actively is time wasted.
As part of many of our Management Training courses, we talk about Active Listening. Developing good Active Listening skills can help you to manage and do business more efficiently – you will understand what people mean more thoroughly, and less messages will get lost in translation.
Active Listening Tips
A lot of the time we don’t listen attentively. We’re distracted, don’t think we have time to talk and are thinking about something unrelated – so, intended meanings get lost.
Active listening strengthens our mutual understanding.
Take 5 minutes to read and digest these Active Listening Tips – it could save you much more time in the long run!
Four Steps To Active Listening
1) Hearing. This is the most basic listening stage – this is simply paying attention to make sure you hear what is being said (and you’d be surprised how many people don’t even do that!)
2) Interpretation. Hearing is the first stage, but interpreting what you hear goes a step further and ensures you get the meaning of what is being said. Not doing this leads to misunderstandings as you project your own views on to what the other person is saying.
3) Evaluation. Once you have heard, and interpreted what you’re being told, evaluating and deciding what to do with the information goes a step further.
4) Respond. Finally, providing a verbal or visual response to your colleague lets them know that you have heard and understood them, and what your action will be as a result.
Understanding these four stages is an important start – here are some more practical tips to help you put Active Listening in to practice:
Practical Active Listening Tips
- Don’t talk-listen. Good listeners allow people to get their full point across without constantly cutting in.
- Don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t assume you know what people mean before they’ve finished – this is projecting your own opinion on to their communication. Don’t tune out once you think you’ve got the general idea as you may miss something critical
- Ask your own questions. If you haven’t got the point, it’s perfectly acceptable to say, “Do you mean this?” – but wait for a convenient point and don’t interrupt consistently.
- Be open minded. Listening is about gaining new information. Open your mind to other people’s viewpoints and you will find it fascinating.
- Give feedback. Make eye contact with the person you’re speaking to – give verbal (“yes”, “I see”) and non-verbal (nod, smile) indications that you’re taking in what they are saying
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