11 Ways To Be A Better Listener

Listening is a bit like intelligence— people like to think their listening skills are above average, but on closer reflection they could admit to committing common listening mistakes.

With so much of work revolving around communication, such as giving and receiving feedback and instructions, discussing project and deadlines, the need to listen well is clear.

Failing to keep your ears (and eyes) open could set you back in your career. A recent study conducted at George Washington University showed that listening can influence up to 40% of a leader’s job performance.

In today's fast paced environment, pausing to truly listening to others can feel like a drain on our time. But active, effective listening is crucial to our job performance and is key to reducing miscommunication and conflict in the workplace. With a conscious effort we can enhance our listening skills.

Here's how:

  1. Defer judgement - really concentrate on listening when the other person begins to say something that you don’t agree with.

  2. Respond appropriately - know the words that trigger your emotions and don’t be distracted by them.

  3. Be open minded - Let go of any pre-formed opinions that cloud your ability to listen. Having an open mind makes you approachable, which is crucial in the workplace where approachability means access to new ideas and help.

  4. Focus on listening - listen to understand what the other person is saying, not to plan your rebuttal.

  5. Don't interrupt - interrupting tells the speaker that what you have to say is more important. Naturally, we want to help others, but when we jump in with advice or a solution, we’re shutting the other person down.

  6. Be patient - some people take longer than others to make their point.

  7. Use positive body language - be aware of your gestures, expressions and tone of voice. Show that you're listening through your body language.

  8. Ask questions - ask for clarification or seek more information where necessary.

  9. Notice non verbal cues - pick up on the subtle, yet valuable information being conveyed through body language, tone of voice and what is not being said.

  10. Be attentive - look the other person in the eye when he or she is speaking, put down your phone.

  11. Provide regular feedback - paraphrase what you hear into your own words, this builds your understanding of what is being said and gives others an opportunity to clarify what they mean.