The art of listening

Have You Mastered the Skill of Listening?

You know how important listening skills are. You’ve probably had people telling you how important they are since you were a child, and as an adult you’ve grown to understand why they are important.

If you’re like most people, though, even though you know how important the skill of listening is, you’ve probably never taken the time to actively improve that skill.

A simple listening skill test

How good are your listening skills? Take this simple test:

a. Have you ever had someone say to you, “I just said that.”

b. Have you ever found your thoughts drifting when someone else was speaking?

c. Have you ever been introduced to people, only to forget their names a minute later?

d. Do you check messages or look at things on your computer while talking to people on the telephone?

e. Do you scroll through things on your cell phone during meetings?

f. Do you sometimes find yourself thinking about your response when the other person is still talking?

Welcome to the world of the average listener

Chances are you answered “yes” to at least one of these (or, if you’re like most people, you answered yes to all of them). Welcome to the world of the average listener.

Does it really matter? Is the skill of listening really as important as everyone says? Regardless of who you are, where you are or what you do, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Better listeners make better bosses, more valuable employees, more effective customer service providers, higher producing salespeople, better parents – the list goes on. (If you’re not convinced, try this experiment)

Listening is, in many ways, more than just a skill. It’s an attitude. To be good at it, you must be passionate, involved and interested. You have to see value in the things other people have to say. 

Six tips for being a better listener

There are a lot of hacks out there for improving your listening skills, but here are the six biggies:

1. Stop talking – especially about yourself.

2. Don’t ‘multi-task’ while listening. It is physically impossible to listen at a high level while doing a second activity.

3. Use words and phrases that prompt people to talk more. Don’t tell them what you think — learn more about what they think.

4. Immerse yourself in what the person is telling you. Don’t let your mind wander.

5. Imagine that there will be a test on what the other person has said.

6. Ask questions – lots of questions.

Work on your listening skills. Practice them. The payoff is huge. Good listeners are scarce, and very much in demand!

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