Friday, March 1, 2013

Becoming a Better Listener

By Terry Orr 

How good of a listener are you? Most of us simply are lacking in our listening skills - too busy, subject or individual is boring, have more important things to be doing.  Too many meetings consumer our days and productive - and then we find ourselves working overtime to make up for lost time.  So why is it important to be a good listener? suggests:

We would be spending less time trying to recall what we can’t remember and become more productive.

The quality of our work would improve because we would make less mistakes.

We would likely get into fewer arguments.

Our relationships would be stronger.

We would have more empathy and compassion for others.

In my earlier years, taking notes was really not required as I could remember most of what was said.  Later, life became more complicated - more information, more sources of that information, failure to take notes, ADD/ADHD and gradual loss of hearing all contributed to becoming a poorer listener. I needed to educate myself on better listener. So how can we do that?  Once again, I refer to who captures these 13 tips:

Stop talking.

Put yourself in the speaker’s shoes so you get a deeper understanding of where they’re coming from and what is driving them to say what they’re saying.

Focus on using inviting body language, such as making eye contact, uncrossing your arms, and turning your shoulders so you’re facing the person speaking.

Avoid thinking about what you’re going to say next.

Create memory triggers to assist your recall.

Be open minded and avoid passing judgment on the speaker.

Stop doing other things — all other things — while someone is speaking to you.

Reschedule the conversation when possible if you can’t remove the distractions.

Participate in active listening by encouraging the speaker with nods and affirmative words.

Take what is being said at face value and avoid focusing on the “hidden” meaning.

Don’t interrupt.

Summarize and repeat what you heard when it’s your turn to talk.

Ask for clarification to get a better understanding of what was said.

How many of these are you guilty of doing? Sadly, all of them for me over the years. As the years pass by and my hearing challenges continue - I find myself trying to really focus on what is being said.  Speaking up and asking questions to ensure that I understand.

March is International Listening Awareness Month.

What tips do you have to be a listening better?

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