“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” –Doug Larson
In this fast paced, competitive, world everyone scrambles to get their point across first and, in their haste to be heard, they forget to listen.
And ignoring the all-important skill of listening can lead to unnecessary conflicts and ultimately can cost you respect, success and money.
So how can you become a better listener and find priceless nuggets of information that can only be discovered by being silent? Follow the five pieces of advice below and wow your clients, family members and friends with your ability to listen.
1. If your mouth is moving you aren’t listening
Quite simply if you are talking, you aren’t listening. Fight the urge to talk and really pay attention to the person speaking. Even when everyone stops talking keep your mouth closed and allow silence to creep in. You will have plenty of opportunity to be heard, and remaining quiet a bit longer may prompt others to divulge information you normally would not hear.
2. Don’t think about your next talking point
Remaining silent isn’t enough, you must also quiet your mind. It’s impossible to listen to someone while you are formulating your next brilliant talking point. Truly listen by concentrating on the words being spoken. Make an effort to remember key points by creating memory triggers.
3. Look interested
So you have your mouth closed and you are making a faithful listening effort and then it happens. Your train of focus derails as you start to fidget, glance down at your watch and look up at the ceiling. Hint: this isn’t effective listening. Actively listen and make your body language fit into that mold. Nod, smile and make eye contact, i.e. be interested.
4. Never interrupt
If you follow the first three points, most likely the impulse to interrupt won’t occur. You want the speaker to feel as if they have your complete attention. Interrupting reveals disinterest and makes it appear as if you believe what you have to say is more important. Put yourself in the speaker’s shoes. Would you want someone interrupting you?
5. Ask questions
Finally, when it is appropriate, ask questions – good questions. Avoid close-ended questions that require nothing more than a yes or no response. Craft well-thought out open-ended questions that show the speaker you were listening, really listening.