Become an Active Listener
Can you hear what people are really saying?
If you feel that you are lacking in the communication skills department, this can be detrimental in the long run in terms of your career. It is simply not possible to influence, negotiate, and persuade people – all tools that you need to be a success in the work place – when your listening and communication skills are sub par.
Every one relies on other people to accomplish tasks, and if the lines of communication among people are blocked, then that makes accomplishing these tasks all the more difficult – if not downright impossible. But it is not just speaking that it is important – acquiring top notch listening skills is the key to quality communication.
With all this in mind, it is key to start working towards attaining better listening skills. Good listeners are those who are able to perform up to their expectations, avoid misunderstandings and conflict, while also succeeding at nearly everything they attempt. This is not to say that becoming an active listener is easy – this is not a skill that many of us are born with. Rather, we must work towards becoming better listeners in our day-to-day lives. Now let us take a look at some of the ways in which we might become better at the listening game.
Do you have a good understanding of your own communication style?
If you are a person that is lacking in the self-awareness department, then you can’t ever hope to attain quality listening skills. Listening begins with listening to one’s inner voice. Once you have a firm grasp on your unique style of communicating with others, you will be able to use your special talents for creating a firm impression on other people.
You should also have a firm awareness of how other people perceive you. Once you have this awareness, you should find it quite easy to adapt to their styles of communication. Of course, we are not inferring that you should totally change your method of communicating every time you meet a new person. The idea is basically to make the other person immediately comfortable around you. You can do this by selecting certain modes of behavior that already fit in with your personality. Adapting such means of communication in the world of business can help you become an active, adept listener to other people’s concerns and needs – and thus figure out ways of satisfying them.
Are you an Active Listener?
It has been calculated that most people speak anywhere between 100 and 175 words per minute. We are capable of listening, however, to nearly three hundred words per minute. As you can see, it is quite easy, with all that word flow, for us to allow our minds to drift in to outer space, effectively tuning out whatever it is that the speaker is attempting to communicate with us.
There are two kinds of listening – active listening and passive listening. Passive listening means that you are only catching the vague drift of whatever the person is saying. Active listening, however, means we are really taking action in the listening process. This means we are listening with a purpose, a firm goal in mind. Whether that goal be to acquire useful information, understand other people, solve a problem, get directions, share interest, show support, or see how an individual feels about something, active listening is a key means of survival in the communication jungle.
In the event that you find yourself having a hard time concentrating on what someone is trying to communicate, try to repeat their words mentally in your mind as they say them. This helps reinforce the person’s message, while simultaneously preventing your mind from drifting off.
Do you use nonverbal communication?
The level of interpersonal communication in a conversation can be raised to a significant degree via the use of nonverbal communication. Smiles, eye contact, gestures, and posture are all aspects of nonverbal communication that can significantly enhance an exchange. This body language is also a means of letting the other person know that you are listening closely to what they are attempting to say. It will also prompt further communication while keeping misunderstandings down to a minimum.
One of the hardest things about communication to accept is the fact that oftentimes, what someone says and what we hear are two markedly different things. There are all sorts of distortion devices in our brain that prevents us from hearing the other person – these include, filters, assumptions, beliefs, and judgments.
In order to make sure we have clearly understood what the other person has said, it is key to ask them such questions as “Did I understand you correctly when you say that…?” You can also merely repeat the things they just said to check that you understood them right.