By Alan Graner
Most of us have never learned how to truly listen, to hear what the other person is saying…or not saying.
If you want to become a more effective listener, try this:
- Be prepared to listen. If all you want to do is express your ideas, thoughts and opinions, you’ll learn nothing.
- Look directly at the speaker, especially if you’re at some kind of gathering. It’s a bit insulting if you are constantly scanning the room to see if there’s someone more important/interesting/attractive to talk to.
- Give up the urge to interrupt. Once people know they have the floor, they relax and open up.
- Give positive non-verbal feedback. Smile. Nod your head.
- Make encouraging sounds such as “I see,” “That’s interesting” or even a simple “Uh huh.”
- Focus on ideas or key points to keep your mind from wandering. Concentrate on what’s being said rather than how you’ll respond.
- Paraphrase what you think you heard to ensure you listened correctly.
- Go beyond superficial polite conversation. Ask probing questions that require more in-depth information/analysis/opinion. By asking questions you indicate you’ve actually listened and you’re interested in learning more. This is like the ultimate compliment, and few people can resist admiring you.
By listening effectively you can learn lots of amazing tips, tricks of the trade, strategic information, more efficient ways of doing things, perhaps even new ideas that will help you attain success.
You might make a new friend, a strategic ally, a mentor, a referrer or someone who can open doors that were previously closed to further your career.
If nothing else, people will think you’re a brilliant conversationalist.
What listening skills can you add?
Alan Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations, an Orange County, CA business public relations and marketing content firm. For content that makes you stand out from the crowd, email Jeffrey Swartz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit www.dsprel.com.