One of the best communication skills one can posses is actually to be a good listener. Listening successfully however doesn’t just mean being able to understand what is being said, but to understand how the speaker feels about what he or she is communicating.
If you take the time to listen and listen well you make the speaker feel like they are being heard and understood which can help build a deeper connection between you. Take time to help clarify any information you are being given or are giving out this can help avoid any misunderstandings and conflicts. Create an environment where everyone feels they can be – and are relaxed about expressing their own thoughts and ideas and where if necessary problems or issues can be sorted out.
If you feel emotions are running high and the speaker feels they aren’t being heard – or heard properly – it can help to take a minute just to calm them down, offer a glass of water or a 5 minute break – if you can relieve any negative thoughts or feelings you are well on your way for any problem solving to begin.
If you want to fully connect with and understand the other person by listening then listening effectively will just come naturally to you. If however you are struggling – here are some tips that can help you listen effectively.
*Don’t interrupt – and don’t try and re-direct the conversation, especially during a job interview – for example if the speaker says something don’t try and then *make it about you*. Good listening is not about waiting till it is your turn to talk. If you are thinking what you are going to say next you are not focused on the speaker and what he or she is saying. Often the speaker can see by your facial expressions that your mind is elsewhere
*Stay focused on the speaker – if you are doodling, text messaging or day dreaming you will miss any non-verbal clues. If you are struggling to focus on some speakers try repeating their words in your head – it will help you stay focused while reinforcing their message.
*Show interest – nod occasionally at the speaker, make sure your posture is open and inviting and smile at the person. If need be encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments such as *uh huh* or *yes*
*Don’t judge – to be able to communicate well with someone you don’t have to actually like them or agree with their thought’s, ideas or opinions, however you do need to set aside your judgement of them – so hold back any criticism and blame. This is one of the most difficult communication skills – but if you can execute these skills well it can lead to an unexpected and often unlikely connection with them.
Do you think being a good listener is a good or bad skill to have? Has being a good listener helped you land a job or promotion? Do you have any tips to share that could be added to the list?