How to Improve your Listening Skills at Work
Most people not always listen to each other carefully, even if it is interesting or important issues for them.
How can you attract or focus the attention of the interlocutor, and what techniques are most effective to combat distraction?
This master class will help not only young entrepreneurs and managers, but will be also useful to experienced businessmen and ordinary people who want to grow, open new facets of the self, to change the image, find hidden keys to successful interaction in society.
Why do I need to develop listening skills?
- The modern manager should observe the ethics of business communication, to understand the measure of words, to be honest, speaking strictly on the merits, to be polite and friendly, speak loud and clear.
- In the conditions of toughening competition the victory is for those who can establish the business connection, working on their image, flexible in solutions and methods of communication, understand the psychology of the interlocutor, responsible for his words.
- Finally, attracting and retaining customers is also the result of business negotiations. Whether clients seek your services, will do this once or repeatedly and tell their friends about your firm depends on the first meeting or first call to your company.
What distracts me during the conversation?
- The factor of lack of interest. Perhaps your interlocutor is not interested in the subject. He doesn't care about the discussed topic, and he just "blacked out".
- The factor of distraction from the essence of the hearing. Your listener can be distracted from the conversation by various external factors: someone answered the phone, or just the temperature in the room is uncomfortable. When you are driving, distraction can be a radio, the noise of traffic, the siren of a police car."
- Factor withdrawal. Perhaps one of the most common causes of insufficient attention — a conversation with yourself, or, as it's commonly called the internal dialogue. You listen to someone speaking at a speed of 60-80 words per minute. Your brain can perceive much more rapid speech, and you start to think about something else. "If I switched the light off leaving for work?", "Where to go on vacation?", "What else do I need to do tonight?" Internal dialogue is so deep that by continuing to listen to the speaker, we stop to record incoming information from him, stop realizing it."
- The speech factor. How carefully can we listen to the speaker, greatly influenced his manner of speaking: the language (too complicated or too rough, simplified), speech rate (too slow for our consciousness or too fast), etc. If the speaker is monotonous, our consciousness enters "sleep". Common mistakes are also long monologues, the lack of contact with the audience."
- The gestures factor. Another serious problem is a mismatch between gestures and postures of the speaker of spoken words. The speaker says one thing, and his body informs us of something entirely different, the facial expression is not consistent with the terms of the motion, for the most part, seem inappropriate. It appears that people are either too uptight or openly lying."
- The visual factor. Problems in perception arise when the speaker is unable to look into the eyes of the audience."
- The expression factor. Sometimes people stop listening because they want to speak too. Each of us had to be in that position. In business situations we often have to communicate with the same people, talking the same topics, and we often know in advance what direction the conversation will turn. We know what the person willing to answer on the usually asked questions. Then we just wait until he finishes it, to take the word ourselves."
- The protection factor. The inability and unwillingness to listen is often the result of protective mechanisms that help people to protect themselves from the unpleasant news."
- The habit of active listening to others can bring you many benefits. First of all, you will be loved by the surrounding people. Most people prefer to talk but not listen and are very happy if they find an attentive interlocutor.
- Listening actively, we better remember what was said. The ability to listen effectively and ask questions — an integral part of the skill of persuading people.
- Much easier to convince a person of anything, to influence his thoughts and actions, if to listen attentively and ask appropriate questions.
- Listening to the person actively, we encourage him to continue talking. We can obtain the maximum amount of useful and necessary information only if provide the interviewee with the opportunity to speak.
- If the information is a powerful force, the active perception method of its discovery. If we have effective listening skills, we`ll always be able to please the interlocutor a nice compliment.
How to listen effectively?
- Listening Method #1 "sweet couple". We have two ears and one mouth, so tries to use them as nature intended.
- Listening Method #2 " the peepers". It is better to look your partner straight in the eye during listening. This way you show how much you care. It is always good to see the eyes, so we can determine how partner reacts to our speech. Of course, this does not mean that you need to look at him intently in the face. Just look him in the eyes, thereby supporting the visual with the contact.
- Listening Method #3 "notes on the cuffs". The ability to remember is one of the most remarkable properties of the person. Making notes, we are providing an excellent service. In some situations, you must ask permission of anything to write first but rarely refuse such a request.
- Listening Method #4 "good end". If discussing ideas cause enthusiasm or we have something to say on the subject that we often have a desire to help the speaker and we are trying to finish the words they speak. Most often, these efforts will confuse your interlocutor, so it is always better to give people the opportunity to express their thoughts to the end, even in situations of friendship or informal communication.
- Listening Method #5 "positive response". One of the main elements in active perception — the ability to give the other person to understand, that we listen carefully, with the help of any reaction to his words. Sometimes just a simple "Yes", "understand" or nod of the head.
The following example can illustrate the importance of feedback. Perhaps talking on the phone and not hearing a long time back-reaction of the interlocutor to your words, you had to ask the person on the other end: "Are you here? Can you hear me?" By the way, in such an awkward situation both to blame. One — because he does not involve the interlocutor in the conversation, the other — because not enough apparently responds to spoken words. Direct communication is necessary to respond to the words of the speaker by gestures and posture.
- Listening Method #6 "peace pipe". We all speak differently: we may have different accents, the phrasing, the individual rate of speech, thinking, the tone of voice, etc. Side aspects of conversation can affect your attention and stop to understand the meaning of the conversation. Seek to identify and control their prejudices, carefully listening to what we are trying to say.
- Listening Method #7 "I want to know everything". If you do not understand something, ask. We are all guilty in saying, "Yes, I understand" — although not really can grasp what we are told about. Have the courage to confess if you don't understand what you say. You lift up your companion, and true recognition of subsequently brings great dividends.
- Listening Method #8 "to get to the bottom". It happens very often when in a conversation we ask too many questions, touching on a range of topics only superficially. Much better to ask some questions on the same issue. By continuing to ask open-ended questions on the same subject, you can get a lot of interesting information.
- Listening Method #9 "take a breath". If you want to give your words more weight, don't try to screw up the instant interlocutor answer, and make a short pause, gently breathe. This way you give the interlocutor to understand that you answer deliberately, on mature consideration, that your remark is not "homework". Also, if you are a bit late with the answer, your partner can continue to speak and to inform you of new, interesting information.
At other times you are so absorbed in their own perspective that they forget to listen to what the other person says.
So during the conversation try and stick to those rules.
If you intend to improve listening skills at work, start with a workshop:
Exercise 1. Try to listen to a few speeches, which may contain quite a lot of unfamiliar words. Try to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words based on the context in which they are applied. The aim of this exercise is to increase your vocabulary to prevent putting you in a deadlock.
Exercise 2. Try as soon as I get the chance, to talk with people whose style of communication is difficult for your perception. Constantly experiencing the impact of difficult styles of data flow and training your listening skills, you will feel much more confident in subsequent dialogues.
Exercise 3. Record on video or audio fifteen-minute interview in which you take on the role of the effective listener. Listen to the tape and try to count the number of times that you: a) distracted by external factors; b) distracted by your own thoughts; C) mentally "ahead" of the speaker; g) do subjective evaluation in the course of speech; d) are disconnected from the hearing of something spoken by something; e) filled pauses in your own words.
Deborah Carpenter is one of the developers for Liftmyskills – portal with different programs for the personal development for people who are in business and want to improve not only the effectiveness of their work, but also grow as a person.
by Deborah Carpenter