If there is one skill that has the ability to significantly impact every part of our daily life, it’s the skill of effective listening. Sadly, this isn’t something we are positively taught in school or at home. Yet our ability to get on with people and get the most out of life depends on it.
Effective listening is the capacity to truly hear everything a person is communicating and involves more than just what is said and how it’s being said.
Listen without preparing a response
If you are preparing a response in your head while a person is still speaking, you are no longer listening and most likely missing out on vital information.
I observed this recently with a person giving a series of small group presentations. Often the facilitator missed the essence of what a person was asking and his reply didn’t hit the spot. I can only assume he was editing information in his head. As soon as he heard something that fitted with what he knew, he stopped listening.
Listen with all your senses switched on
When we learn to use our whole body as a sensory receiver, we begin to “hear” more. This may sound strange, but once you’ve learned to simultaneously use your heart, head, ears, eyes and gut feeling, listening will never be the same again! And it’s a learnable skill.
I recently met a beautiful woman who teaches tantric. She told me she doesn’t have a preconceived way of how to work with an individual or a couple as the key to tantric is having nothing but the present moment matter. The same applies to effective listening.
Give everyone the gift of your full attention
If you are on the phone and a person stands in your office in a manner that says I want your immediate attention, you can no longer give your full attention to the person on the phone. If you are meeting with someone and your mobile phone rings or a pretty sound announces the arrival of an email, you have broken the flow of your conversation and especially your concentration.
Practice the habit of switching off your mobile when with people, or switch off the sound of emails arriving. Educate people to respect that whoever you are presently listening to or speaking with, is more important than anything else.
How do you feel if someone is distracted when you are speaking with them? Do you trust them? Do you want to work with them, do business or be around them? Respect and trust grows when we go the extra distance and put aside our automatic responses.
Mostly we only get one chance to make a great impression. Being totally focused on hearing a person, be it on the phone or in person, increases our chances of establishing an ongoing relationship that will prosper.