Active Listening Skills!
You’ve heard the saying “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” How true this is! Think about a time when someone didn’t take the time to understand or listen to you. Were you open to what they had to say? When you listen well and have been perceived to have listened well, you help forge the beginning of a productive relationship. Why? Because when you really hear someone else you’re giving the very precious, but all too rare, gift of being understood. Most of us at some time have experienced the power and relief of being truly understood. This provides very strong cement for relationships.
Very few of us have had any education on how to be an active listener. Although we’re taught the traditional Three R’s (Reading, Writing & Arithmetic) in school, most of us didn’t receive any formal education about how to listen effectively or how to express ourselves constructively while interacting with others. Seldom are these interpersonal channels of communication a part of the curriculum in basic education. Yet listening and speaking skills are critical elements for people to not only better understand one another, but to better work with one another. Below are four active listening skills to make your own:
1. Attending: Ask open-ended questions. Remember to be quiet and listen. Seek to understand before seeking to be understood.
2. Acknowledgment: While listening, use signals to convey to your listener that you’re paying attention to them. Use gestures such as nodding of the head, facial expressions, vocal encouragement, note-taking, etc.
3. Paraphrase: Repeat back to the listener what you’ve just heard. This is when real communication begins. By repeating the information you’ve heard, your listener can let you know if you understood them.
4. Probing: Now, you’re able to ask more questions and get more detailed information about the listener’s concerns.
The best way to make a great first impression is to focus on the needs of the other person. Make each person feel involved in an intimate conversation, simply by asking a question and listening intently, showing through your body language and facial expressions that you are sincere. You’ll be remembered!
Over the summer Gary will continue his blog series on the Art of Telling. He believes that speaking skills are required and acquirable for today’s business professional. The purpose of the Art of Telling blog series is to enable readers to develop the communication and presentation skills that will serve them a lifetime. Click here to see more on Gary’s Art of Telling programs and seminars.