My granddaughter plays Friday Night Lights Football. My son-in-law Jeff coaches the team. She plays quarterback and we were discussing how good she is. Jeff was mentioning that he gives her plays and seems as though she forgets when she gets back on the field “She just doesn’t listen,” Jeff lamented.
Now I know she is only 10 years old, and kids do have a tendency not to listen to anyone, but I started wondering how many adults are good listeners. How often do you start talking to someone and you can tell they are not listening or only half listening? Or worse yet, they have their cell phone and it beeps or vibrates and they stop and look at it!
I am determined to become a better listener so I have compiled several hints to make all of us better listeners. Experts say humans have an average eight-second attention span so you need to make the most of the time you have. These are tips you can use in your personal life and definitely in your role as a business owner. Ineffective listening in the workplace can only cause you many problems.
First, Put Down The Cell Phone
If you are having an important conversation with someone, put the cell phone away. Nothing is more distracting for everyone.
Make Eye Contact
I have to admit this is difficult for me. It is very important when speaking with someone to look them in the eyes. Don’t dart your eyes around, don’t look down at your lap. It may take some practice so make it a practice a small step at a time. You could try to just focus on one of the person’s eyes at a time or maybe at their lips when they are speaking. If you see me and are talking to me, call me on it if I am not looking in your eyes!
Listen To Their Voice
Do their words rise or fall during certain times? Do they speak softly about some things and loudly about others? “Keep a mental note of these cues,” states Marco Buscaglia, of the Tribune Content Agency. “Also watch the body language. Sometimes it is as simple as watching a person’s hands. Do they have clenched fists when discussing certain subjects? Do they rub the top of their head, wipe their eyes or massage the back of their necks at certain points during the conversation?” This will give you a better feel for what is important to the speaker.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
What better way to be a better listener than to ask more questions than you give answers? Open-ended questions give the other party a chance to express in more detail what they are trying to say. And it gives you a chance to repeat back to them what they said. People like the acknowledgement that you heard what they said and understand it. Nothing is worse than talking and talking without a reaction from the other party.
Wait Until Someone Is Done Talking Before You Respond
We all are probably guilty of this. Sometimes, I find myself formulating an answer before the person has stopped talking. We need to take the time to listen to the entire thought before we start thinking of a response. Otherwise, we are doing an injustice to the other party. I am not better than them and they have value to their thoughts. Just be present in the moment and listen fully to what the person has to say.
Summarize What Was Said
When the conversation is over, summarize what you thought the conversation was about. This will give the other party a chance to add anything and let them know you were listening to what was said. We don’t want to have any misunderstandings.
“Nature gave us one tongue and two ears so we could hear twice as much as we speak,” said Epictetus. Think about it. Let this become our new motto!