“You have to learn to listen and listen to learn” ~unknown
I was with a friend of mine, the other day, having a cup of coffee and when she asked me about my travel plans for the year, I started talking to her about some of my immediate travel plans. I suddenly realized she wasn’t paying attention. She was busy looking at her iPhone, typing away on Twitter. Though she kept an occasional eye contact with me, her mind was elsewhere. She was hearing but not listening.
We often face such situations in our daily life amongst friends, family and also at the work place in meetings and casual conversations.
One of the key elements of Communication is to listen attentively so as to give expanding space for the talker’s expression and whenever possible validate the meaning conveyed by the talker. The act of not listening indicates a complete disinterest in and lack of focus in what the talker believes to be important.
Key in listening is “Give out what you most want to come back.”
As a follow-up to my earlier post on “The Art of Listening, following are some of the tips that I use to be an effective listener.
my eyes and heart. It is important to listen not only to the words but also the tone of the voice. This will enable us to listen to the Why and not just the What. Listening with the eyes by observing the body language of the talker and listening with the heart to feel and empathize with the talker is necessary to make the connection. Till you listen to the emotions that the other party is displaying, you cannot empathize.
2. Listen to understand – most of us listen to respond rather than to understand. Any conversation should facilitate leaving more than enough space and time for the other party to think, feel, formulate ideas, elaborate and discover a complete expression of his or her concerns or point of view.
3. Paraphrase – this is one of my favorites. Paraphrasing helps to demonstrate that you have heard what was said and also indicates that you are interested. Paraphrasing can be done by way of questions or statements, depending on the situation. I find asking questions such as ” would you mind clarifying what you mean by that” or ” what could be your next step” useful. Some of these questions helps to create the trust and holding environment in that relationship.
4. Silence - Attentive welcoming vacuum or silence. Listening is not all about complete silence but using the
latter to provide a larger receptacle for the talker to unload, model and remodel volunteered personal thoughts, feelings and motivations. The latter works well not only in coaching and counseling sessions but also in any situation of emotional outbursts.
5. Listen without filters and judgement - many times when we are in a conversation many of us meander
away in our own thoughts and go on a journey of our own experiences. I can only understand if I listen attentively without filtering through an intellectual, conceptual, emotional, personal, technical framework.
6. Listening and Looking – Making an eye contact is an integral part of any conversation. There is absolutely
no point in engaging someone in a conversation if you are not going to be present both physically and mentally. I have seen many people, instead of making an eye contact during a conversation, scanning the surroundings or the room to determine if they know someone else. The kind of attitude displayed during a conversation is again a key element of listening.
7. Email communication – you may be wondering what has email got to do with listening. Have you been in situations where you have sent an email to someone and have been waiting for a response. In today’s world where communication has taken so many forms, I believe that for any relevant email that each of us receive, it is a courtesy to reply to that email immediately or at the bare minimum acknowledge, so that the sender knows that he or she has got your attention.
You don’t need to be leader to be an effective listener. Any human being who wants to be listened to will give another the same chance.
Would you like to add any other points to How To Listen Effectively. Please share in the Comments Section below. Thank you.