Being a good listener means you’re able to listen to others without judgement or interruption. It means you’re able to see beyond surface level answers to what’s really going on with the person you’re speaking to.
This skill is an absolute necessity for success in business and in life, but most of us don’t practice it.
The best way to become a better listener is to practice listening.
STEP 1: Start by Taking A Moment To Stop
Most of us feel a little awkward when we first start listening to someone. We want to interrupt, but that’s usually the wrong thing to do.
If you’re feeling nervous, try taking a moment before you start listening. It can be as short as 5-10 seconds. That’s all the time it takes to stop, breathe, and think about what you’re about to do.
STEP 2: Don’t Interrupt People
A big part of being a good listener is not interrupting people. If you start talking too soon, you’re going to miss the whole point of why the person was telling you what they were telling you.
The key here is to let them finish without saying anything.
STEP 3: Notice What’s Going On With Your Body
Many of us will subconsciously tense up when we’re listening. It’s not something that we can control, but it’s easy to notice when we’re doing it.
Once you start noticing it, you can take a moment to relax. Think about your breathing, and focus on the other person.
STEP 4: Let People Tell Their Story
When you’re listening, you should be letting people tell their story.
This is where your mind begins to wander. This is where you might start thinking about how to get back to work.
It’s ok to think about work while you’re listening, but don’t allow yourself to get distracted.
STEP 5: Reflect Back What You Hear
After you’ve listened to a person for a little while, you’ll probably begin to understand what they’re trying to communicate.
As you reflect back to them what you heard, you can either repeat what they said verbatim, or you can provide your own interpretation.
The important thing here is that you should be accurate.
STEP 6: Ask Questions To Get More Information
After you’ve finished reflecting back what you heard, you’ll likely have a much better understanding of what they’re trying to say.
At this point, it’s a good idea to ask a couple of clarifying questions. These questions should help you understand the bigger picture, and they should help you to understand the other person’s perspective better.
STEP 7: Respond In A Way That Makes Sense For You
The final step is to respond in a way that makes sense for you.
If you’re speaking with a friend, you can make your response based on your friendship.
If you’re speaking with a business partner, you can make your response based on your relationship.
If you’re speaking with someone who’s new to you, you can make your response based on their position in your life.
No matter what, you should be respectful of the other person.
Thanks for reading!