Weak listening skills or the inability to listen attentively makes meetings interminable and lengthens dialogue certainly, but also realize that it can ruin relationships and derail your career development!
When the conversation begins, ask if it’s okay to take notes because you want to listen well. Take great notes and capture the essence of the dialogue. Ask questions if anything is unclear. It’s always okay to ask “Can You Help Me Understand?” Watch the facial expressions and body language, as they will often highlight the deeper meaning of the speech. Get comfortable with a little silence. Silence is said to be God’s way of giving you a second chance to reflect and develop a deeper understanding. Let silence do the heavy lifting. People say a lot of meaningful stuff when they’re trying to avoid uncomfortable silence. Use that. Never interrupt, listen politely. Thank the other person for their views and express your respect, even when you may disagree.
Ask great questions to build your understanding. Some of my favorites are: “Can you help me understand?”, “How can I help you to be more successful this year?” and “What do you need from me right now?”
Don’t listen through your paradigms. Sometimes our listening suffers because we are judging the words as they come out of the speaker’s mouth. We can often filter another’s words by running them through our assumptions, beliefs, and expectations. Open your mind and relax. Life is more fun when you let the other humans on this planet share their wisdom with you, so listen openly! Perspectives change from person to person, so it’s important to be open-minded when other people are sharing their point of view.
While you’re focusing on the speaker, remind yourself to actively listen and do it openly, without filtering and learn to listen at a foundational level. Listen to everything, not just the words they are speaking. Pay attention to the tone, the meaning, the message behind the words and the spaces between the words, where meaning will often lurk.
Remember how important it is to focus on the speaker and to make/maintain eye contact. This is especially difficult to do when taking your notes. You will need to ask the speaker to slow down occasionally so you can avoid writer’s cramp and can look up from your tablet and let them know you’re focused on them and their viewpoint. Smile and remain open. This will always matter and always make a difference, yet a simple skill to add to your list!
Remember this, you do NOT have to react every time that you disagree with someone. Sometimes it is really good to JUST listen. Remind yourself to breathe and to listen with purpose, or listen with intent. When you do that, you will reach a calmer state and be more open to receiving the message that the other person is delivering. If you disagree, the time will come for you to share your opinion, but you needn’t rush. Be aware of how you are listening and how you react to listening to others.
Talk To An Experienced Coach
Learning to actively listen and develop better listening skills can be tough, but it’s something that can excel and improve many areas of your life – not just in your professional career! Whether you decide to do your own research or join a class, an experienced coach or professional can help you. Michael Beach Coaching and Consulting has programs and one on one options to help you flourish! Michael is an award-winning Executive Coach, and the Founder of Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting, a growing Business Advisory firm with offices in Minnesota’s Twin Cities and also in Arizona. Michael is building a team of outstanding consultants and coaches who can assess your business and make recommendations for how your business can become fast growth and build a dynamic culture that will fuel your growth for years to come.