Why is it so hard to listen?
Is it the distraction of your phone buzzing, the hundred other things you should or could be doing, or your focus on what you will say next? The reality is it’s probably a combination of all of these things mushing together to make you hard of hearing.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression that people may not remember what you said but they will always remember how you made them feel. And a big part of leaving a positive impression on people is to really give them one of your most valuable assets, time. Focused-time where you are really listening.
Good listeners are engaged, curious, and ask good questions. And you can learn to be a better listener. But it will take practice and there’s no better time like the present. Here are some ideas to get your practice started.
- Refrain from going into problem-solving mode. Good listening will help people get to their own conclusions. They often just need a sounding board. If you always jump into problem-solving mode, you are not helping people grow in their careers.
- Be curious. If you are curious, it not only leads to asking good questions, it leads to good conversation. Your natural energy for a topic will come through when you toss out your pre-conceived notions and let yourself be curious and open-minded. Definitely, don’t start every conversation with the end in mind.
- Block time. You can’t rush focused listening time. If you have a fire drill going on at work that needs your attention or you are not in the right mindset, postpone the conversation. Let the person know how important speaking to them is to you and that you need to be 100% focused on it and schedule a time where you can give that person the time needed.
- Practice. You won’t get it right every time. You will slip into solving mode. You will have conversations where you are not focused and you should have delayed it. That’s okay. Awareness is the first step to becoming a better listener. So, keep working at it.
Being a great listener is such a rare skill these days that it can really set you apart. People gravitate toward good listeners and this gives you an opportunity to really understand and deliver value that is right on target. It will almost seem like you are psychic in your ability to deliver just what was needed. It’s not really magic, it’s just good listening.