Probably you have not been told to ‘shut up and listen’ lately…but do you really know if you are a good listener? Or why that is important to your own and your organization’s success?
The old line that ‘god gave us two ears and only one mouth for a reason’ reflects the common problem: most of us do not listen well. Research shows that in the USA a far higher percentage of managers are extroverts than is the overall workforce. And many extroverts are better at talking than listening.
Listening well is a critical skill: good listeners are
more likely to learn of potential problems and solutions early;
better at assessing employees, job applicants, and potential partners or vendors;
more aware of changes which may affect them.
Good listening skills require some attention and effort to learn and use. They take an effort to turn off one’s own internal discussions, to think about what one is doing in a conversation, to ignore one’s phone or other distractions, and to change one’s talking habits. But your listening skills can be improved. And this will help with your personal life as well as your business!
Tips for more effective listening include:
listen for understanding of both what is said and what underlies the words or tone.
turn off your tendency to be defensive or think of your reply while the other person is speaking.
engage yourself fully in listening: make eye contact, say an encouraging word or nod periodically, take notes as needed.
ask relevant questions: for further information and to clarify your understanding of what you think you heard.
don’t interrupt or assume you know what the rest of the statement will be.
don’t give advice unless asked to.
Start by making a real effort […]