How I Acquired The Best and Most Advanced Communication Device On The Market For Free – You Can Too
The best and most advanced communication device on the market is free and readily available. It’s a listening device that I recommend highly to everyone. It is a pair of ears which everyone has. If you learn to use them to actively listen, you can gain insights and develop opportunities previously out of reach.
I was pretty shy when growing up and it was far easier to listen to and observe what others were saying, rather than embarrass myself with an uninspiring remark, delivered without confidence. However, I gradually realised that listening and not talking was in fact advantageous as I gathered insights and intelligence that others, especially those more seemingly confident types doing all the talking, seemed to routinely miss. I was then able to contribute the right information at the right time and with much greater confidence as I often had something valuable to say.
Even now, although I have learned to be more confident in a conversation or group meeting, my default approach remains the same in that I listen more than I talk, unconsciously applying the ‘one third speaking, two thirds listening rule’ and often my talking is only to ask more questions anyway to probe and clarify.
Obviously there is a balance to be achieved between appearing too mechanical and focused on the outcome rather than being “authentic” and genuine. Where I encounter communication issues its usually because I’m talking too much and so can more easily miss the visual and verbal cues that provide so much context about the motivations of the individuals in the conversation.
Although everyone listens to a greater or lesser degree those that actively listen are able to learn more and perform better and so it is an incredibly important skill to develop.
3 Reasons Why Actively Listening is Important
1. Listening is the key to effective communication
By listening to others you can pick up verbal messages that others misunderstand or miss completely. Research suggests that people only remember between 25% and 50% of what they hear which means that in any workplace or personal conversation if you are not concentrating on listening to others, you can miss important messages. Good listening skills have many benefits at work, such as more effective sharing of information, greater ability to influence and negotiate, less conflict, all of which lead to greater productivity. Similarly there are benefits in our personal lives such as stronger relationships through better communication, increased enjoyment of social situations and a greater capacity to learn.
2. Listening is a development opportunity
Listening builds a flexible mindset because listening effectively and being open to different ideas, concepts and approaches will develop you and your skill set. If you are speaking all the time, you are making noise and not learning or listening.
3. Listening builds rapport
When you are actively listening to someone who recognises this through your body language and verbal cues, it encourages them to talk further and brings you both closer together. Alternatively if they are talking and you are visibly distracted and inattentive they can easily become frustrated or irritated.
You have two ears and one mouth – use them in that order.
7 tips on how to improve your listening skills
1. Get in the mindset for better listening
You need to start with by making a decision that you want to improve your listening skills and that you are prepared to make a conscious effort to become a better listener through being able to “switch on” at the appropriate time. This means not only hearing the words another person is saying but observing how they are telling their story using verbal and non verbal messages.
2. Get focused on the speaker
Assuming it’s time to listen, you need to quickly switch on, get focused on the speaker and prepare yourself to listen. You need to be fully “in the moment” and concentrate completely on the messages that are being communicated. This means keeping your mind clear of other thoughts and putting away your phone or pen or other potential distractions. Face the speaker, look at them and establish eye contact, which helps you engage and also signals to them that you are engaged. When listening pay attention not only to the words but the tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language, which gives you additional information that will be as important as the words themselves.
3. Concentrate on what they are saying – their words, their tone and the context of their ideas
In addition to listening to the words being spoken you also need to notice the volume and tone being used to create emphasis and effect, which in turn will help you understand their ideas and perspectives. Certainly when you are focused on listening and using your full senses you lower your own subconscious prejudices and barriers to alternate issues and ideas and so develop greater understanding and empathy for the speaker’s point of view. Whilst it doesn’t mean that you agree with their point of view it will mean you take more from the conversation.
4. Watch for their body language
Pay attention to what isn’t being said because the speaker’s body language will tell you so much more than just the words. We listen with our eyes as well as our ears so watch and pick up the invaluable information being transmitted through the speaker’s facial expressions, gestures, posture and eye movements.
5. Show them that you’re listening
A critical part of listening is building rapport with the speaker by showing them that you are listening and understanding what is being said. You can do this by using your own body language and gestures to convey your attention through your eye contact, nodding and smiling occasionally and ensuring your posture and stance is open. You can also reaffirm what they are saying with small verbal cues like ‘yes’ or ‘uh huh’.
6. Don’t interrupt them in full flow
It is often tempting to interrupt the speaker with comments, suggestions or counter arguments, especially where you disagree or where you are thinking ahead and at a faster speed than the speaker. This is frustrating to the speaker and often others too, because it disrupts their flow and limits your full understanding of the message as you are thinking more about what to say and how and when to position it. You need to achieve a balance and obviously in a robust group discussion you need to be heard but the objective is to maximize your listening as well as getting your point across.
7. Understand the key points and let the speaker know you did
As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said and if you are unsure you need to respectfully clarify through paraphrasing the speakers views or by asking questions. Your questions or summations have the added benefit of letting the speaker know that you have been. Also unless emotion is warranted it’s important to ensure your questions or comments are calm and reasoned. A shouting match rarely has winners.
In summary, improving your listening skills has immense benefits in improving efficiency and the quality of relationships as well as becoming an easy and natural way to develop your learning and understanding of new ideas, concepts and opinions.
To learn more on coaching and developing soft skills in yourself, your team and organisation contact us.