It's no mistake that we have 2 ears and 1 mouth! We were designed to listen more than we talk. How well you listen, will determine how well you deliver successful results.
If you're anything like me, the instant we begin a conversation, our minds begin to formulate a response. Like right now, even as you read this blog, your mind is formulating a response to something you haven't even finished reading. If you're doing this, then you're missing the most important element of developing successful client-focused relationships.
.So what did I do? I learned the hard way. But you don't have to. So here are some simple things you can start today to become an active listener. "Active Listening" occurs when you make a conscious effort to not only hear what someone else is saying, but to also understand the complete message being sent.
Try following these techniques to become an active listener:
1. Pay attention. Avoid distractions from others, cell phones and most importantly, your own thoughts.
2. Show that you're listening. Use your body language and other signs to acknowledge you are listening. A slow head nod does not necessarily indicate that you agree with what is being said, but it does show that you are listening.
3. Provide feedback. Occasionally summarize or recap the speaker's comments. Reflect on what you've heard by paraphrasing. "What I'm hearing is" and "Sounds like you're saying" are great ways to reflect back on the conversation.
4. Defer judgment. No matter how strong the temptation, DON'T INTERRUPT THE SPEAKER. If you've ever been interrupted while trying to get your point across, then you know can empathize with how others may feel when you do it. It's frustrating and limits your understanding of the message.
5. Respond appropriately. We've heard since childhood how important it is to treat others in the same manner you want to be treated. So, make your response, yet be candid, open and honest. Assert your opinions AND always be respectful.
Be intentional about your listening. Start today by practicing some of the techniques above and in no time you will become an active listener.