One of the biggest weaknesses of most people in relationships and in business is that they don’t listen… that means really listen. Listening is different from hearing. Hearing is a physical act that we do with our ears. Listening is a mental act that we do with our brains. Most people who fail to listen do it not because they are poor hearers.
Many factors contribute to a person’s poor listening behavior or habits. They include, but are not limited to:
• distractions in the environment
• the other person’s body language
• the history of the relationship
• unresolved issues between the two people
• lack of interest in the subject
• the pace of the other person’s dialogue
• limited vocabulary of either person
• personal unresolved issues with either person
• personal prejudices or judgments of either person
• personality style differences
Any or all of these can get in the way of a person getting or understanding your message. Observe the other person’s non-verbal messages while you’re talking to him/her. She’ll tell you, without a doubt, whether she’s listening to you or not. If there is any doubt if he’s listening, ask him a question in the middle of one of your sentences. If he doesn’t answer, is there any reason to continue with the rest of the message as you’re doing? Then you have the chance to reframe your thoughts, and try another approach.
To improve your listening skills:
• stay focused on the other person
• look for the theme of the message
• key into the major points
• control distractions
• stay in the present
• make lots of eye contact, and use responses such as, “I see,” “uh huh,” “Hmmm,” “Really,” etc.
• pay attention to those things that draw your attention away from the other person and the message
Improved listening will have a tremendous and positive impact on all of your relationships, whether business or personal. Listening to others is one of the greatest compliments you can pay them.
Let me know how you go, I’d love to hear from you… I mean “Listen” to you!