Are you listening?

December 01, 2020

You might pride yourself in being a great conversationalist, but if you're not really listening to others, we have some bad news!

As Bear says, "The best conversationalists are the ones who listen far more than they speak" and while it sounds pretty straightforward there is a real art to becoming a good listener. Why does it matter? Because really listening to others is much more than hearing what they're saying - it's acknowledging them and their thoughts as valid, it builds trust and respect and in a work environment, it inevitably results in increased productivity and good team morale.

If you're keen to improve your listening skills and become a better leader and/or team member, Glenn Llopis has outlined 6 Forms of Listening in his blog for Forbes, namely:

1. Show That You Care

When your employees/colleagues feel like you care about who they are, they tend to work harder and aim to exceed your expectations.

2. Engage Yourself

Seek to actively enagage with your team/colleagues on topics which are important to them. When they share their opinions, ask questions and encourage them to elaborate. Don't be scared to share your opinion (even if it's different) but do so in a respectful way and without judgement.

3. Be Empathetic

Because we all manage day-to-day stress and pressures in our own way, it is important that you are empathetic to how your team/colleagues are coping/ being affected. Empathy is a powerful display of listening and the best leaders are those who know how to emapathise and make themselves approachable to those who need attention.

4. Don’t Judge Others

When we judge others, we expose our own immaturity, an inability to embrace differences and ignorance to the fact that differences are a great platform for learning from others and challenging our usual approach.

5. Be Expansively Mindful

Great communicators know how to actively listen to others. This means acknowledging what is being said with nonverbal cues (body language, facial expressions and nodding) before responding verbally. It means that they are not just hearing conversations but taking note of what is being said and how people are saying it; while making continuous eye-contact and gestures.

If you appear disconnected, you are perceived as disinterested.

6. Don’t Interrupt

It's a terrible habit and a hard one to break, but it's important to realise that with every interruption, come disengagement. Earn the respect of your team/ colleagues, by being a patient listener.

People respect leaders and colleagues that listen, because we know how difficult listening can be.

Here are a few statistics that will really make you think about the importance of effective listening:

  • 85% of what we know, has been learned through listening
  • Humans generally listen at a 25% comprehension rate
  • In a typical business day, 45% of our time is spent listening, 30% is spent talking, and the remaining 25% is spent reading and writing.
  • Less than 2% of all professionals have had formal education or training to understand and improve listening skills and techniques

Do the people you engage with, think you're a good listener?

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