How Really Good Listeners Connect More
By Sandy Schroeder
Most of us spend a lot of time striving to communicate, but we may forget to listen. Speaking and listening are really intertwined. You need both to really connect with someone.
Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-founder of TalentSmart, an agency that services 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies, tells us why listening is so crucial.
Recent research at George Washington University showed listening affects 40 percent of a leader’s job performance.
Stop and listen to your world at home and at work. Words flow to explain, clarify and persuade, while raised eyebrows or warning tones signal even more. You really have to pay attention to know what is happening.
A speech professor of mine graded his students on what they said, and how they listened. Their speech was graded, and their ability to recall the other class members’ speeches was also graded.
How to Upgrade Your Listening Skills
Here are some ways to listen better.
Stash your phone – Sneaking glances at your phone or checking text messages sends a clear message of its own. Instead, give your full attention to the speaker. Your interaction will be much better.
Zoom in – Actually listen to what is being said, instead of thinking about your response or daydreaming. Try to get the core message.
Respond – Ask for clarification and stay on topic. The speaker will feel appreciated and the two of you may connect much more clearly. If possible, do your homework before to bring better questions to the situation.
Restate what’s said – This is known as “reflective listening,” which means you are restating what has been said to make sure you got the correct message. This can be invaluable to keep everyone on track to avoid misunderstandings when the information is complex.
Project positively – Sit up straight, and lean toward the speaker as you listen. Speak clearly and maintain eye contact as you ask questions. You will be remembered as a positive listener.
Skip the negatives – Avoid head-shaking, twitching, or fooling with papers, while someone is speaking. No matter how you feel about the topic and the views, save your response for the question and comment period. If you immediately shut down on the subject you may miss the opportunity to learn more.
Be quiet – Never take away the focus from the speaker with whispers or quick responses. Give the speaker a chance to make his or her case. Jumping in too quickly with your own assessments can send a negative message to the speaker and everyone else who is listening.
Keep practicing to listen better. You may be amazed how many new connections you make.
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