Do you listen when your employees or customers are speaking? While your first instinct might be to say “of course,” there’s a difference between listening and listening well. When we actively listen to what the other person is saying, we’re able to communicate better and solve problems more efficiently.
Think about the last time you encountered a troubled employee or an irate customer. How could that situation have been improved if both parties truly understood where the other was coming from?
To improve your listening is to develop your leadership.
Here are 5 ways to quickly enhance your listening skills that you can start practicing today.
1. Make eye contact.
To enhance your listening skills, the very first step is to ensure you’re making eye contact with the speaker. This helps you focus on what they’re saying and prevents any distractions that might come with glancing around, looking at your computer screen, or staring into space.
According to Forbes, eye contact is a fundamental ingredient of effective communication. Even if it didn’t help your listening comprehension, it’s just more polite to focus on the speaker instead of looking around the room. It makes them feel like they’re being heard.
2. Keep an open mind.
If you’ve already decided your position on an issue before you hear someone else out, you’re limiting your ability to understand where they’re coming from. To enhance your listening skills, you should go into every conversation with an open mind.
Don’t assume you know what someone is going to say before they say it. Instead, focus on what they’re saying and consider whether you fully understand their position.
3. Create a mental image.
Try to create a picture in your head of what the other person is telling you. If they’re describing a situation, imagine what it looks and feels like. This isn’t to say you should daydream while they’re speaking, but if you create a mental image of the scenario in your mind, it will make it easier for you to recall details later.
4. Focus on the speaker.
Don’t plan out your response while the other person is still talking. Often we’re so busy thinking up a rebuttal or going off on a mental tangent that we’re not even really hearing what the speaker is saying. Even worse, we sometimes interrupt with our response before they’ve also said their piece.
It’s okay if you don’t have a quick reply when your employee or customer is finished talking. It’s better to spend your time listening to what they have to say and taking a moment after they’re done to formulate an accurate response.
5. Take notes.
There’s no shame at all in taking notes while another person is talking. This allows you to jot down key points and make a note of any questions you might have so you can ask them at the end without interrupting. Taking notes is one of the best ways to ensure you’re remembering the conversation correctly and aren’t forgetting any details. Another side benefit of writing down their comments is that it shows that you care about their opinions.
If you don’t take notes during the conversation, but it turns out to be important, try writing down the essential points afterward to keep for your records. That way you have a copy of the conversation if you need to reference it later.
It takes hard work and practice to enhance your listening skills. When you are ready to be a pro, fill out my contact form for a complimentary coaching call.