We can blame many things for our inability to listen. Social media, moving away from family, working longer hours, texting, and communication via screens have all contributed to our lack of listening skills.
Listening is a skill, which has to be practiced. It makes me laugh when the most attended meeting breakouts are on products or practice management when they should focus on the human aspects of running a business, retaining and getting new clients. Most believe because they communicate all day, they are good at it.
But as with many skills, practice does not make perfect, practice makes permanent, and thus bad communication habits form.
Today we listen to respond, and mostly half listen. We are so focused on anything else, but rarely are we listening. We need to make eye contact, watch a person’s facial movement, and listen with more than our ears. We need to block out and silence the mind in order to really hear.
Here are five things you can do to become a better listener. If you do these things you will be a better business owner, employee, spouse, parent and well just a better person in general.
1. When someone is talking put down anything you have in your hands. Yes, this includes your phone or anything you might fidget with.
2. Make real and genuine eye contact. If you think about listening with your eyes, they will soften and the person communicating with you will realize you are being genuine and you care about what they are saying.
3. Watch their face. Grimaces, eye movement, and other facial expressions can and do say as much as the words are.
4. Listen to their pace, tone, and tenor. Are they speeding up, slowing down, getting louder or softer? These are huge indicators of what they are really saying.
5. Quiet your mind. You cannot listen if your mind is elsewhere. Take a few deep breaths and listen. If you find your mind straying, realize that thoughts can be like visitors, they can stay for a few but they are not moving in. Let the other thoughts go.
If you learn to listen your practice with benefit, you will keep employees, keep friends, and be a better person in general.
When is the last time you practiced listening?
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