Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Improving Your Listening Skills


How well you listen has major impacts on:
  • Your job effectiveness
  • The quality of your relationships with others
  • Productivity
  • Your ability to influence, persuade, negotiate
  • Avoiding conflict and misunderstandings
  • Understanding the other person's point of view
  • Respecting others
Barriers to Good Listening:
  • Distractions caused by your own thoughts or your environment
  • Lack of concentration on the topic or the speaker
  • Language, vocabulary or grammar
  • Accent of speaker
  • Interrupting the speaker
  • Not looking at the speaker
  • Make the speaker feel that he is wasting the listener's time
  • Showing interest in something rather than the conversation
  • Getting ahead of speaker and finishing her thoughts
  • Asking too many questions
  • Not controlling your body language and gestures
Active Listening:

Becoming an active listener is not easy and requires practice and determination:
  • Pay Attention: pay attention to the other person very carefully - look at the speaker directly - put aside any distracting thoughts and clear your mind - listen to the speaker's body language- Concentrate on what is being said - Don't allow yourself to be distracted by your own thoughts or your environment -Listen at least twice as you speak
  • Acknowledgement: nod your head or simply "uh huh" shows that you're listening and you're interested - Use your body language and gestures to convey your attention - have open and inviting posture - encourage the speaker to continue with small comments such as "yes", "right"
  • Provide Feedback: Occasional questions or comment show that you are listening and understanding - Reflect what has been said by paraphrasing - Summarize the speaker's comments periodically
  • Defer Judgement: Allow the speaker to finish - try not to interrupt - silence is good just think and listen
  • Respond Appropriately: do not attack the speaker, don't put him or her down - be honest and open in your response - Assert your opinions respectfully
  • Listen with Pen and Paper: specially when you're in a meeting, you should take notes from what you hear but be careful not to loose what is being said
  • “What I’m hearing is…”
  • “Sounds like you are saying…”
  • "I may not be understanding you correct, ..."
  • "My understanding from what you said is that..."
  • "What I thought you just said is... is that what you meant?
Best is to send minutes after the meetings. Then all members can review and add items missing or forgotten.

Encourage all to do so because it adds value to the team. Educate the importance of this if others underestimate or devalue this.

Even if people listen very well, they might forget or miss something.

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