Become a better Listener
If you are like me, and you have at one point in your career and life received feedback that you are not a good listener, then you should take this short piece quite seriously. Many people think they are good at listening, but are actually good at “listening to respond” or “listening to react”. Good listening is about “listening with empathy or listening to understand”. In my journey as a leader both at home and at work, I have learned to practice the following skills to improve my ability to listen to understand:
- Do not interrupt: Set clear ground rules for responding, and ensure you do not interrupt the speaker. Once you interrupt and start speaking, you cannot really be listening
- Ask clarifying questions: To really put yourself in the shoes of the person you are speaking to, you must learn to ask clarifying questions. This way you are checking what you think you may have heard, and given the person another opportunity to transmit the message clearly.
- Use positive body language: To keep the person talking and enthusiastic, your body language has to reflect enthusiasm – nod, lean forward, maintain facial contact, take down notes (as applicable) and use gestures that show you are interested. Do these genuinely, and you will demonstrate that you really seek to understand.
Listening is perhaps the most empowering thing that you can do to the people you lead. Most of the problems we have in our society and our world today are because leaders are not good listeners. If you want to really influence the people that you lead at work or at home, then you must really try to listen to understand, and these tips I have shared will definitely help.