The art of listening
In the view of many, listening is becoming a lost art. In an effort to be more efficient and technology-savvy, people are spending less time face-to-face. This is impeding listening capabilities. Most professional negotiators will tell you that you can learn invaluable information about a situation through situational and non-verbal cues. Unfortunately, email can’t replace context, tone, attitude, posture and many other nuances of listening.
I recommend the following:
- Educate yourself on the art of listening. Many books and CDs are available on the subject.
- Practice makes perfect. Get used to asking questions and then intently listening.
- Prepare for meetings and understand what your non-verbal cues are saying.
- Don’t “show up and throw up” at meetings. No one really wants to hear your life story.
- Find common ground and common interests. That drives real conversation.
- When actively listening, don’t get distracted by others or your technology.
- Turn off your computer and smart phone at certain times and on certain days. Connect with people the old-fashioned way: talk to them.
- Keep an open mind when listening. Closing off is the fastest way of shutting down a conversation before the good stuff comes out.
- Embrace the silence in a conversation. Many people are afraid of silence and just start talking to fill the gap. Resist the temptation. Think before speaking.
- Recap your conversation and agree on follow-up and timing.