was on the show and was telling us why listening is so important and tips on how to do so.Complete today's Better Choice Challenge, Focus on Listening!Watch this segment in episode 188 now
Why is good listening so important?
The most important part of communication is listening. When you are truly
listened to, you feel not only heard, but understood. There is a lot of value in being a good listener. It shows the other person that you value their viewpoint, are eager to engage with their ideas and are clearly interested in what they have to say, even
if you have disagree on some points. Knowing and listening to the other person, there can be fewer misunderstandings down the line. What are the signs of a bad listener?
Conversely, when you are not heard you can feel frustrated and irritated. We all know what it feels like to not be listened too: you don't even have to be in the same room with the person to know that they are not listening to you - you can sense when someone is distracted - hello BlackBerry's and Facebook.
How many times have you been on the phone and sensed this, prompting you to
ask "is this a good time, should I call back later?" You can sense there is a distraction or an inability to engage from the other side of the phone - it happens all the time!Other signs of bad listening
are finishing other people's sentences: you assume you know what they are going to say so you say it for them, and so you disrupt their train of thought and end up talking for them - something that they didn't invite. Also, being distracted, you may find yourself thinking about what you're going to make for dinner or how that last meeting went, as opposed to what is being said in front of you. Not listening is also reflected in your body language (i.e. not making eye contact, checking your watch, looking around the room, yawning, etc.) and this adds to the stress and/or anxiety of the person who is speaking and not being heard.Tips to become a better listener:Put your whole body into it
Show that you are listening by your body language: face the person and have an open posture, don't cross your arms. Use facial expressions to show that you are hearing what they are saying, make eye contact; you don't want to end up in a staring contest but definitely try to make eye contact through the majority of the time that the person is talking to you. Leaning into the person indicates interest in what the person is saying - nod or shake your head as you are hearing what they are saying - this will keep you engaged with the conversation even if you are not saying anything.Mirror
Mirror back to the person what they have said. You can do this by summarizing what they have told you and reflect it back to them. It may sound like a simple technique but it is very powerful, as the person not only feels heard, but understood. And if you heard something in a way that is was not intended, this can clear it up right away. An example would be "so what you are saying is that you would like to meet on Tuesdays instead of Wednesdays, because of your babysitting needs. I understand."Stay Present
To remain present to the other person requires that you focus all your attention on them and what they are saying. If you find yourself thinking about other things, like what to watch on the television that night or when to pick up dry-cleaning, rein yourself back in. You can do this by asking a relevant question or using the mirroring technique to bring yourself back into the conversation. It's easy to slide back into a passive (and eventual zoned out) mode, but listening is an active skill! Take as much time and effort to listen as you do in composing and verbalizing a retort or response.Keep the focus on them
Don't try to 'one up' their experience or turn the conversation to about you. Also, it is common that most people already formulate a response or counter-argument while someone else is still speaking. This also takes them away from listening. Refrain from this habit and fully hear what they are saying before thinking of an answer or comment. Keep them on that track and you will learn a lot more than you think.