The Art of Listening
“Did you even hear me?” your exasperated friend says to you.
“Sure,” you say, inwardly hoping they don’t ask you for feedback.
The truth is you heard every word that came out of their mouth, but you didn’t listen to any of it.
Listening is more than just your ears taking in the sounds someone makes to you. It is absorbing the full meaning of what someone else is saying. The best listeners also take in clues from the speaker’s body language and the context in which it’s being delivered.
Listening is not as easy as it sounds. The first step in being a good listener is avoiding some bad habits. These include:
- Thinking of what you’re going to say next
- Evaluating what’s being said from only your perspective
- Talking over the speaker
Like any skill, listening takes work. Here are a few tips to help get you started:
- Treat it like a test. With any luck the speaker won’t present you with a multiple choice exam after they’re done talking, but pretend they will.
- Summarize. This technique is also known as the “so what you’re saying is…” trick. If you’ve truly listened you should be able to quickly sum up what they’ve said. It can also provide clarity and gives you a little more time if you don’t know how to respond.
Better listening skills can be a great help in business communication as well as your personal relationships. So practice listening and save your friends some exasperation.