I read this quote in a book a few days back and it really resonated with me. In today’s constantly changing hi tech, high speed and high stress world communication has become more important than ever. We spend so much time and energy in mastering the art of speaking without realizing that listening is one of the most vital and must have soft skill in today’s day and age.
We are spending less and less time in listening. There’s a growing impatience amongst us which stops us from listening effectively. One important disclaimer – there is a huge difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is through the ears bit listening is through the mind. You hear a lot of things but you choose to listen what you really want to listen.
If you are not a good listener read on to find out simple ways to master the Art of listening!
Look into my eyes please –Talking to someone while they look into their phone or watch is like trying to hit a moving target. Maintaining eye contact is the basic requirement to become an effective listener. Decide how much eye contact you want to maintain, too much or too little may discourage or distract the speaker.
Be mindful –When you hear someone speaking, try to listen in order to understand the message they are trying to communicate rather than listening with the intent of replying. Most of us start framing our responses mentally even before the speaker has finished speaking. I can say from my personal experience that I tend to get lost in my own thoughts sometimes even in the middle of a conversation!
Hold your horses please – Wait till the speaker has finished speaking and then shoot your response or questions. Constantly interrupting the speaker will break their chain of thought and might throw the entire discussion off the rails. It may also result in you getting interrupted as a repercussion.
Don’t be judgmental –It’s easy to judge someone and form an impression based on their speaking skills or appearance. Don’t let this judgement cloud your perception about the speaker. Try and listen to the speaker objectively. As they say – Content is God!
Summarize, Summarize and Summarize– One of the best ways of encouraging the speaker and making sure you heard everything right is to summarize the key points of the discussion. This not only keeps you and the speaker on the same page it also shows to the speaker that you were attentive throughout the conversation. Not everyone has photographic memory, note down any important details you might want to refer to at a later time.
Listening is an art which can be mastered over a period of time with patience and practice. In coming times having listening as a core skill will become an added advantage since people who can listen effectively will be able to articulate better. So start today by practicing listening and see the difference in your articulation skills and knowledge.