5 simple tips to help you improve your listening skills
Listening skills and listening properly are key tools for personal effectiveness, whether you’re trying to influence others (first need to understand them), increase sales (same point), make better decisions, delegate… In fact, the list is endless, whenever there are other people involved, better listening skills will really help. The following five tips will really help, my favourite is to look and listen for congruence – it can even be fun!
Sometimes the point isn’t just to listen more effectively, you need the other person to know that you’re listening. If that doesn’t make sense think of a time when you’ve been talking to somebody who wasn’t listening, or you weren’t sure – how did you feel? Angry, frustrated, ineffective?
Listening skills tip 1: Show you are listening.
You can help the speaker by demonstrating listening, non vocals sounds (uh ha), non verbal signs (nodding), and keeping eye contact will help the speaker. By focusing on doing these, it will also make you stay focused on the speaker. Be aware of what you’re doing, what fidgeting habits do you have, don’t doodle (or whatever your habit is). If you have a trusted colleague you could ask for feedback on your fidget habits, it’s amazing how many of these we have without realising.
Listening skills tip 2: One thing at a time.
Do not be tempted to sit and send a text, fiddle with the iPhone and update your emails or twitter. Do not allow yourself to think about all the other pressing points at the office. Good listening skills involve concentration, concentrate on their message. What are the key points they’re making, which back up points are they making and which of the main ones do they support? Think about their points and how they’re structured; you have to concentrate on them, not your iPhone, to do this.
Listening skills tip 3: Study the speaker.
Sometimes it can be easy to drift off of while somebody is talking, then your mind wanders. Thinking about their message will help. But also study them; how are they standing, how does their voice vary with different parts of the message, what colour are their eyes. Developing Good listening skills means you should learn the early signs of when your mind wanders and concentrate on the speaker.
Listening skills tip 4: Look and listen for congruence.
If you concentrate on their words and their body language you can start to tell which parts they’re comfortable and less comfortable with. Develop your listening skills by listening for changes in vocal tone and speed of speech; these are good indicators as well. This is a great way to make yourself really focus on them and their message; it will also help you pick up hidden nuances.
Listening skills tip 5: Summarise
Do you have an opportunity to check your understanding and enhance their presentation? Summarise the main points as you heard them. This is easy in a small conversation, but can also be done in a larger presentation. The questions you ask can effectively summarise their key points.
Active listening skills can really help you to understand messages more deeply; just think of the extra information you could get from somebody if you understood more of their message. Download our free guide on active listening skills, , it's free and waiting for you to download right now. Click here for instant access (email address required).
What do you do to ensure that it is known that you are listening?