"Be A Better Listner"
Newsletter April 11, 2013
Do you need to improve your listening skills? According to experts, "good listeners" display a pattern of distinctive behaviors and these can be easily practiced and mastered.
1. Stay focused.
Minimize external distractions and pay close attention to what others say. We are often multi-tasking – vaguely listening to what the other person is saying while thinking of what we are going to say. This is possible because we can hear at 600 words a minute and yet we only speak at about 200 words, so the gap provides our brain with
the potential to wander away from what is being said. We also carry around a lot of "noise" in our brains, as we think about things that have happened or which might happen. So for a speaker to break through that noise can sometimes be quite difficult.
2. Interpret both words and emotions.
The words people use are just one part of what they're saying. You can capture the whole message by also paying attention to the emotions behind the words. When you are thinking of what you are going to say, you have a high probability of missing what
the other person is not saying. What is unsaid is often more revealing than what is said, but that is a delicate process to divine the difference. Our concentration on the speaker
has to be complete if we are to be successful.
3. Do not interrupt. Interruptions decrease effective communication.
Having our sentences ended for us by the listener is never appreciated by anyone. We do it though, and it is a habit we need to break. In the Japanese language the verb comes at the end, so positive or negative, past or future is decided at that point, so you have to listen right through. English is a little simpler, so we can work out where the conversation is going and jump right in. Don’t!
4. Resist filtering.
Be open-minded; don't judge what someone says by your values only. Have you had that experience where the listener interprets what you are saying in an incorrect manner. It happens because they are not really listening and are assuming what you are saying. It creates a lot of rework, because you then have to sort out the misunderstanding, as well as get the conversation back on track.
5. Summarize the message.
Be sure you've heard something correctly by offering a quick summary of what the other person has said. Feeding back what you heard to double check for understanding is a great skill. Communications improves, and the listener really appreciates that you heard them correctly.