From a young age, we’re taught to focus on speaking rather than listening. We’re taught that leaders are great speakers, and that if we wish to become one, we must follow in their footsteps. There’s speech training, Toastmasters, speech therapy, and any one of a myriad of ways to master the gift of gab. But if you ask any good leader worth his salt, they’ll tell you…there’s something even MORE important…Listening
Want to understand exactly what makes someone tick? You have to learn to listen. Speaking is important but as an active listener, you engage your audience in a way that not only makes them feel important, but more connected to you.
We know the feeling, of being stuck in a meeting that seems to drag on for an eternity. We watch the clock, count the seconds, and pretend to be engaged while we text our friends about lunch. But in doing so, we risk missing crucial information. Information that will ultimately affect our ability to be the amazing charismatic leader, we wish we were. If you don’t have all the data, then you’ll never be able to lead.
How exactly do you become an excellent active listener? By practising these 5 skills that will turn you from brick wall, into the person that everyone wants to get to know.
1. Be fully present and in the moment
Can you think of a time when you were trapped in a conversation with someone who wasn’t fully listening or distracted? Of course you can. Then you already know how frustrating that can be. It’s not only disrespectful, it’s mildly infuriating.
When someone else is speaking, give them the attention and respect you’d ask of your own listeners. Be fully present and if something urgent requires your attention or you need to take a call, then be polite enough to excuse yourself from the conversation or halt it, if it’s one-on-one.
Do what you need to, then return to them and be ready to listen, paying attention to their body language, tone of their voice and any facial expressions.
We want to be paying attention to ALL CHANNELS of communication, not just their words.
2. Maintain eye contact with the speaker
A CRUCIAL step to showing that you are there and paying full attention, is looking the speaker in the eyes as they talk. Not only will you be less distracted, eye contact also reassures them that what they are saying is meaningful and important to you.
3. Assume what they are saying is positive/beneficial
As humans, assuming is what we do. A lot of times, we step into a room certain that we know how a conversation is going to go, or what exactly the other person is feeling or thinking. That’s what makes this active listening tweak so important. Quiet the voice inside, and take a minute to actually observe what’s really going on.
It is especially helpful to only assume that no matter what’s being said, the intent is positive. Especially if you’re dealing with someone you don’t have a good relationship with or don’t know too well. Negative biases can only stand between you and the message – sometimes causing ugly miscommunication. If you struggle to see how what they’re saying could benefit you, put yourself in their shoes…no one wants to be treated like an asshole.
4. Focus on learning something
Staying engaged is much easier if you decide you are going to walk away from the person with an important takeaway or lesson. If the speaker is using terms you don’t understand, ask them what they mean. If they’re an expert, they’ll be more than happy to explain, and YOU get more ammunition the next time the subject comes up.
Every person has something worth sharing. It’s up to you to find it.
5. Let the speaker know how they did by summarizing key points
If you’re having trouble focusing and your attention is drifting away, focus instead on getting the big takeaways from the conversation. When they’re done speaking, run those points back to them. This shows to the speaker than you’re actively trying to understand.
In most cases, the speaker is good with just knowing that you made an effort to hear them out, even if they were misinterpreted. If need be, they’d be happy to repeat any of the information you may have missed.
If you’d like to learn more on how to be a better Active Listener and improve each and every one of your relationships, then click on the link below to get your FREE Active Listening Masterclass courtesy of Psychology Hacker’s CEO, Adam Lyons.
On that page, Adam breaks down exactly what you can do to improve your Active Listening. Not only that, he also makes his other six masterclasses available to you COMPLETELY FREE. These masterclasses are designed to help you achieve the success you’ve always deserved in life. So, don’t miss out and get your Free Psychology Hacker Masterclasses today by Clicking this Link.