On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is rubbish and 10 is the tops, how good are you at listening? I mean really listening, as in paying attention to what you’re hearing.
I was bought up in a family of big talkers and mostly poor listeners which I only realised when I began to visit friends’ homes and noticed that conversations were different. I saw that talk could flow and follow a thread from one person to another; not at all like the disjointed, competitive jumble of words I was used to. Sometimes there was even silence, something I had never encountered at home.
Communications was to be – and is – key to my work and life, so a big learning curve was needed for me to ensure this part of my comms mix wasn’t overpowered by my love of talking.
I’m not a natural listener, so understanding learning and practicing is needed to make sure I get it right. The person I look to for the some of the best advice is Julian Treasure – a good place to start to learn more is his TED talk – 5 ways to listen better.
And in his book Sound Business, Julian gives a practical guide to planning and managing sound for increased productivity and profit in all aspects of business/work surrounds.
Here are few things to consider to listen better
– focus your thoughts on what is being said
– ask questions and respond carefully to the answers
– resist interrupting, finishing sentences or changing the subject
– put yourselves in his/her shoes – empathise
– use your voice, smile and nod to indicate interest
– don’t stand over someone – it they are sitting you sit too at the same level
My scale is listening is still nowhere near a ranking of 10 but I reckon it’s over the half way mark. Let me know what you think: I’ll be sure to listen….
Rachel is a business & educational psychologist. After working for many years in and advising SMEs her current work relates to issues of communication, personal development, team building and motivation. Over the past seven years Rachel has extended her work into the educational field.