How well do you listen?
Three ways to tune in more effectively.
"Listen to learn, learn to listen." - 12 Step Slogan
Listening accounts for 40% of your communication time. It's also the way that you tune into and
stay connected with others.
How important is it for you to be a good listener?
How important is it that you be able to take
in information and stay attuned?
It is essential.
Good listening is powerful -- an act of caring. Speaking freely with someone who you know is
listening can be transforming. It helps
you tap into your intuition and access an inner 'knowing' that might otherwise
be unreachable. In 1998, during a
professional transition, I consulted with a coach for the first time. The greatest gift that he gave me was his
caring attention. He listened and helped
me tune into myself. I clarified what I
wanted, developed an action plan, and moved forward at an accelerated pace. Because my coach listened and helped me
recognize my deepest wishes, I chose an excellent career path and never looked
Good listening isn't easy. Most of us get little, if any, instruction in this area. It is assumed (erroneously) that because we
can hear, we can also listen, and therefore we need no further training. We may carry poor listening skills into adult
life, unaware of our shortcoming. This
can take its toll in our professional and personal lives.
Are you a skillful listener, or do you have poor listening
habits such as:
- Interrupting the speaker.
- Not looking at the speaker.
- Rushing the speaker.
- Topping the speaker's story with "That reminds me" or
"That's nothing, let me tell you about"
- Getting ahead of the speaker and finishing her/his
Even if you answer yes to just one of these, your listening
skills will benefit from some first aid. Here are
3 ways to tune in to others more effectively:
Choose to improve --Awareness is the beginning of
change. Once you've become aware that
your listening habits could use some tweaking, make the decision to take
action. Practice listening as you do
with any other skill that you want to improve. When you notice that your attention is drifting or you're interrupting
the speaker, forgive yourself for slipping, and refocus.
Look like you're listening -- Show your
partner that you're genuinely interested in what s/he has to say. Use frequent eye contact. Lean slightly toward the person talking. Show with nods that you're following what
s/he is talking about.
Sound like you're listening -- Use prompting phrases
to keep yourself engaged and show your partner that you're actively tuned
in. These can include: Hmmm, Oh?, Go ahead. Tell me more. Provide verbal summaries as your partner
speaks. You can do this by repeating
back what you heard them say: "What I hear you saying is", "Is that right?", "As I understand you,
you", "It sounds like".
Becoming a better listener is an act of caring. It can help you get closer to family members,
negotiate an agreement, or provide better customer service. To get started, try one of the strategies
suggested above. What are you willing to
do today to improve your listening skills?
me know how these tips have helped you.
Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org