Listening is one of the most important skills you can develop as a business owner. Listening is not just about hearing what people say; it’s about understanding what people are trying to say. It’s not enough to wait for the other person to pause so that you can jump in with your opinion.
As a listener, you need to show the speaker that you care about what they have to say and understand their perspective.
Poor listening skills will prevent you from knowing if your message was received or if there was any confusion during your conversation. You’ll also miss opportunities to build rapport or find out how you could be better suited to help them.
These 5 tips will help you improve your listening skills and become an even more effective communicator.
Why Listening Is Important
Listening is one of the most important skills you can develop as a business person. It’s not enough to wait for the other person to pause so that you can jump in with your opinion. Listening is about understanding what people are trying to say and showing that you care about what they have to say. Poor listening skills will prevent you from knowing if your message was received or if there was any confusion during your conversation. You’ll also miss opportunities to build rapport or find out how you could be better suited to help them.
These 5 tips will help you improve your listening skills and become an even more effective communicator:
1) Show interest in their perspective
2) Avoid interrupting
3) Don’t take notes
4) Ask questions
5) Be open-minded
Improving Your Listening Skills
1. Make Sure You’re Listening: The first step to improving your listening skills is to ensure you’re actively doing it. This means that you need to make your partner feel like their point is being heard and understood before they will be willing to share their story with you.
2. Lean In: Stepping into the conversation means focusing on what the speaker is saying, not what you’re thinking about yourself or other things that are going on in your life. Oftentimes, our thoughts distract us from what’s happening in the conversation so we don’t hear what’s being said around us.
3. Wait for Silence: Pause between sentences while listening to allow the speaker time to breathe and collect themselves when they are finished speaking.
4. Don’t Interrupt: Being a good listener means respecting how people want their message delivered and not interrupting them mid-sentence without permission or interruption can derail a conversation quickly
5. Study Your Listener: When someone is talking, pay attention not just to what they say but also how they say it and how they present themselves as an individual
Make Eye Contact
When you make eye contact with someone, it not only shows that you are paying attention, but it also helps them feel more confident in what they have to say.
If you’re talking in a group setting and someone is speaking, be sure to lock eyes with them and make eye contact as they speak. It shows that you are fully engaged in the conversation and understand what they are saying.
Some people might be uncomfortable making eye contact for too long. If this is the case with your conversation partner, try having them look away for a few seconds before making eye contact again. This can help break the ice and show them that you’re not just trying to stare at them or intimidate them.
Be Mindful of Nonverbal Cues
When you’re listening, it’s important to be mindful of nonverbal cues.
For example, if someone is sitting back in their chair and slouching, they may not be feeling very confident in what they’re saying. They might also feel defensive.
If you notice that the person you’re talking to is tense or fidgety, it might be a sign that they aren’t really interested in what you have to say or are struggling with understanding what you want them to do. Holding eye contact when speaking will help build rapport with your listener.
Another sign of poor listening skills is being unable to ask follow-up questions after someone has finished speaking. Trying not to interrupt when people are speaking can also improve your listening skills.
Asking questions is one of the best ways to show that you are listening and trying to understand what the speaker is saying.
It’s also a great way to learn new information about the speaker or their problem.
Here are some questions you can ask to help you improve your listening skills:
– How did that make you feel?
– What was going through your head when they said that?
– What was different before and after the situation occurred?
– Can I ask more questions?
One of the worst things you can do as a listener is to be distracted. When you’re trying to listen, put the phone down and don’t check your email or social media feed. If someone asks a question, it’s OK to take a moment to formulate your answer before responding.
You also want to avoid any distractions during the conversation. Try not to fidget or change your posture too much. If you need one hand for something, use both hands so that you can fully focus on what the person is saying without distraction.
If you need more time to think about something, ask for an extension. If there’s no way for you to get an extension because of time constraints, say “I’m sorry I didn’t catch that” instead of jumping in with an answer.
Practice Makes Perfect
1. Practice your listening skills
Listening is a skill that takes practice to master, so the more you work on it, the better you will get. This doesn’t mean you need to go into training mode and learn to listen for hours each day. It does mean finding opportunities in your everyday life where you can practice good listening skills.
One way to do this is by building rapport with people around you. If you think about what motivates them and why they are talking to you, it’s easy to see how this can build an instant connection. You’ll also be able to use these insights during conversations without feeling like they’re just talking at you while you nod your head in agreement.
2. Give yourself three minutes each day
If the idea of doing something every day seems overwhelming, try giving yourself three minutes before or after work each day for some time to focus on listening skills. This will give you enough time in a short period of time for some good listening practice that could improve your effectiveness as a communicator.
3. Ask probing questions
Asking questions after someone finishes speaking is a great way to make sure that everything was received and understood correctly. Look for opportunities when someone is telling their
Listening is vital. Your customer will appreciate it. Your work will improve. You may even find that your mood improves as your empathy increases. But most of all, being a better listener makes you a better person. Especially in a world where everyone is talking, few are listening and there’s a whole lot of noise. But being a better listener takes some conscious effort, practice and a few techniques that will help you extract more information from the other person. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Better briefs bring better solutions. Better solutions make happier customers. And happier customers mean a better reputation.
Dante St James is the founder of Clickstarter, a Meta Blueprint Certified Lead Trainer, a Community Trainer with Meta Australia, a digital advisor with Business Station, an accredited Digital Solutions advisor and presenter, an Entrepreneur Facilitator, and the editor at The Small Marketer. You can watch free 1-hour webinars and grow your digital skills at Dante’s YouTube Channel.