Listening Better

Source: Fast Company, Mar 2017

LISTEN TO LEARN, NOT TO BE POLITE

“Listening is good, but the intent has to be curiosity, not generosity. True dialogue does not happen when we pretend to listen, and it certainly cannot happen if we are not listening at all.”

“Each day, ask yourself, ‘What am I going to be curious about?’” says Gregersen.

QUIET YOUR AGENDA

While you can’t control someone else’s listening habits, you can control your own, and that involves quieting down your mind.

“Turn off those agendas,” says Gregersen. “Really listen to what someone else is trying to say. We need information that is disconfirming, not confirming. If we ever finish a conversation and learned nothing surprising, we weren’t really listening.”

ASK MORE QUESTIONS

One of the simplest ways to be a better listener is to ask more questions than you give answers, says Gregersen. When you ask questions, you create a safe space for other people to give you an unvarnished truth.

“Listening with real intent means I’m going to be open to being very wrong, and I’m comfortable with that in this conversation,” says Gregersen.

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR TALK/LISTEN RATIO

Strive for a 2:1 ratio of listening to talking, says Eblin.

REPEAT BACK WHAT YOU HEARD

A number of problems interfere with people’s ability to understand accurately what another person is trying to communicate, says Adam Goodman, director of the Center for Leadership at Northwestern University.

“Am I anticipating what the other person is about to say? Do I agree or disagree with what’s being said? Maybe I’m agreeing too quickly and, upon reflection, I’d find myself disagreeing later?” he asks. “Put simply, there’s more opportunity to misunderstand then there is to actually understand.”

implement a process called active listening. “It’s been around for a long time, and works if done right,” says Goodman. The basic concept is repeating back to the speaker what you heard. If the speaker agrees that what you heard is what he or she intended to say, you can move on. If not, the speaker needs to reword their statement until the listener really does understand.

ACTUALLY WAIT UNTIL SOMEONE IS DONE TALKING BEFORE YOU RESPOND

The most difficult component of listening effectively is waiting for a period at the end of a sentence before formulating a reply, says Leslie Shore, author of Listen to Succeed.

We all require self-focus, but leaders who make a difference are the ones who know the purpose is bigger than themselves, says Gregersen.

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