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Article by Aleen Andreou (People Achieve)

“But I told you”
“You never pay attention”
“That’s not what I said”

If you have heard these phrases or used them yourself, then you may agree that listening is indeed a forgotten skill, in today’s fast paced world.

Yet as things move faster, knowledge becomes an even more important resource Knowledge can be gained by listening, to understand different perspectives, to learn from other people’s experience and insight.

In today’s world, speed creates stress and confusion. A good listener helps relieve some of the tension. Being listened to, relaxes and helps straighten things out in our minds.

Listening is a skill that can be developed by practicing the points below:

  1. Giving the speaker full attention, using eye contact and focusing on the present moment. The then and there, rather than allowing the mind to drift off to other concerns.

  2. Listening to the voice. Being aware of the tone, pace, volume, and  modulation the speaker uses. There are many ways of saying, “Good morning.” some of which express delight others express anger, or boredom.

  3. Watching the speaker’s body language. There are tell-tale signs to indicate how determined someone is when saying “I will get the report done.”  Or how resentful he feels.

  4. Asking open-ended questions to understand the speaker better. Open ended questions usually start with “What”, “Where”, “Who”, “How”, “When” and allow the speaker to clarify things. “What will you do with the surplus?”

  5. To confirm that you have understood correctly, use a more directed question, rather than an open-ended  question. “You are recommending that we target the younger market segment?”

  6. Take a deep breath rather than interrupting  the person. You may disagree with what you hear, or have questions, however allow the person to finish.

Developing listening skills is a life-long commitment that yields high returns in leading people, networking, influencing, and helping others.

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