Tips For Effective Listening

To be an effective leader, you need to be an effective communicator.  Communicating does not mean simply being able to articulate and present your ideas clearly.  It also means being able to listen effectively.  True communication will only take place if each participant is actively listening as well as speaking.

Can you recall meetings where everyone was talking at once?  It was a room full of noise, but no one was listening, so no one was gaining anything from the conversations.

Many people are much more enthusiastic about talking than they are about listening.  People often talk at each other and do not really make any contact.  This can lead to a break down in relationships or a misunderstanding between people.  People need to listen to hear and understand what is being said.

Here are some tips to help you be a more effective listener.

First, make sure you want to listen.  When you listen under duress it seldom leads to understanding or enjoyment. There are going to be times when you do not want to listen, but you must.  It will be more productive if you can convince yourself that you want to hear what is being said.

Effective listening can be a complex project.  Effective listening takes thought, but it is the only way to be an effective listener.

You may need to practice the art of being an effective listener.  You can practice by listening to various materials so you can improve your listening skills.

If you are just going through the motions, your lack of sincerity will be obvious.  Take a real interest and concentrate on what the speaker is saying.

Make eye contact with the person who is speaking.  Don’t look around the room or at others.  Avoid being distracted.

Let the speaker know that you are listening by making appropriate responses and nodding as they make some key points in the conversation.

If you are not clear about what they are saying, ask them to clarify the subject matter.  Ask relevant questions.

Use questions which are open ended, what, when, who, and where.

Be aware of the body language of the speaker.  Sometimes you can read more into the speaker’s meaning by observing his body language than you can learn from what is said.

Subtly mirror the body language of the speaker.

Summarize the conversation.  You might say “so what you are saying is ….”.

When you ask a question, or respond to a question be careful of your tone of voice.  You do not want to come across as either being judgmental or being an interrogator.  It is easy to be misunderstood if you use the wrong tone of voice.

If the speaker is telling you something sensitive in confidence it is imperative that you not share the information with others.

Use empathy.  If the speaker is talking about some difficulties acknowledge that you realize he finds the subject matter difficult.  Do not use an anecdote from your own experience by saying something like “oh, I know, it happened to me, but my problem was bigger and more difficult than yours”.

Once you master the art of effective listening you will be on your way to being a more effective communicator.  Effective communication is vital for successful leadership.Introvert-signs