How do you feel when you are interacting with someone and they’re not giving you their full attention?
In our overly busy world, true listening has become very rare and when we speak to someone who we can see is actively listening to us, it really stands out and most importantly, it makes us feel valued and appreciated.
The most effective and seductive communicators are excellent at listening. Some people have an advantage, it’s in their nature to listen attentively; however, professional communicators or leaders whose success in their job depends almost exclusively on their advanced interpersonal skills invest time in learning HOW to listen. And why do they do this? Because firstly, making other people feel good and valued makes US feel good and secondly it’s a surefire way of guaranteeing collaboration.
So how can we become more effective listeners and “make people feel better”?
There are three things to consider:
- Think before you speak – I would say that we respond without thinking in at least 90% of situations and especially in those situations when our emotions are running high, when we are upset or overly excited. What we actually say is a test to how well we’ve been listening. It’s so important to be in the moment here, to really listen when the other person is talking, rather than begin thinking about our response and also to think about the words you choose to respond with.
- Listen with respect – In this age of multi tasking it’s very tempting to “listen” to someone whilst doing something else, but how much of the message are you losing by doing this? And more importantly, how does the other person feel if you are not giving them your full attention. They know that they are not being properly heard and they consequently feel undervalued.
- Ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” – When someone tells us something we have a whole range of responses to choose from. Our response can be smart or stupid, it can be relevant or miss the point. Some responses will encourage the other person or discourage them. When we ask ourselves “is it worth it?” we force ourselves to consider how the other person will feel after hearing our response. Instead of considering “what’s in it for me?” we are going one step further and asking “what’s in it for him”?
Listening well requires skill and discipline but it is the one interpersonal skill that really stands out once you’ve mastered it. Why? Because, as we’ve said earlier, done effectively it makes people feel really special and in most interactions it’s often not so much what you’ve said, but how you’ve made someone feel that determines their opinion of you.