Are You Hearing or Listening?

Did you know that bad listening skills are more serious than just being rude? It can be dangerous to your career or business if you hear voices, but don’t lean in and truly listen to what’s being said. How bad is this problem? Research says we remember less than 50 percent of what we hear in a conversation.

Think about your workplace conversations. When you listen, are you plotting your response or making a conscious effort to understand what’s being said?

To be a more effective manager, co-worker or executive you need to read non-verbal messages and pick up on verbal cues while you listen. To be a better listener, you should encourage people to share their thoughts and feelings; then offer feedback (eye contact, nodding your head, smiling, saying “yes”) that shows you really heard them. This is called active listening.

There are real benefits to active listening. When you are making a conscious effort to understand and hear, you’ll get more open and honest feedback. Active listening is an important business communications skill to cultivate. Here are four solid rewards you can gain by becoming a better listener in 2020:

  1. Build Trust: When you make people feel heard, they see you as someone they can trust. If you’re like me, you will only open up and really share your opinions with people you trust. Remember, your clients like doing business with people they know, like and trust. You can make a deeper connection with people when they can trust you to truly listen to them.
  2. More Approachable: If you develop the reputation for being a patient listener, people feel more comfortable talking to you. When you make space for others to really share their feelings, you can gain new perspectives and greater insight. Being open to new opinions, makes you a powerful resource for others.
  3. Fewer Mistakes: You save time and money when you really hear what the other person is saying. There are fewer misunderstandings and mistakes when you lock in and closely listen to explanations of problems, concerns and instructions.
  4. Better Solutions: As a leader or executive, listen carefully to suggestions you hear. Actively listening to your direct reports, colleagues or customers helps you understand what needs to be changed or improved. Problems are opportunities that lead to new products, services or breakthroughs.

You can advance your career and business with better listening skills. When someone is talking to you, don’t get distracted. Focus on what they are saying, remember details about what you’re hearing, ask relevant questions (after the other person is finished talking) and seek clarification to make sure you really understand the message you just got.

What’s your “active listening” style? How do you show another person that you understood what they said and remember what you just heard?

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