We’re told to “be a good listener,” but what does that mean? Have you ever actually studied your own listening habits? Effective leaders are not the best talkers. They have fulfilled career goals by being the best listeners.
Words aren’t enough. When you’re listening, pay conscious attention to facial expressions and body language. This information is just as important as the words that you are hearing. When you are talking with someone, they are likely trying to convey something that is important to them. During your interaction, try to imagine what they might be thinking and intentionally put yourself in their position. Put yourself in their shoes.
Release your inner guru! When was the last time you were fully in the moment? In your next conversation, practice being in the moment. If your mind starts to wander, bring it back to the moment. Concentrate on your listening partner’s face, especially the eyes.
Affirm key points. Appreciate what people are saying by using “mmm-hmmm” and “I see,” or other feedback indicators. Follow this up by summarizing their feelings or the information at least 2 times during each conversation. Pick up the key information, feed it back, and confirm that you are on the same wavelength as the other person.
Stay curious. People who are naturally curious are more engaging to others. Stay curious about what others are doing and trying to convey to you. Curious people see every conversation as an opportunity to learn. Pretend that you’ll be tested about how much of the conversation you have retained!
John Treasure has spent his life researching how the sounds in our environment and our communication methods impact our efficacy. He advocates the RASA method:
Receive information from others by actively listening to them.
Appreciate the feelings and information you receive by giving ongoing feedback.
Summarize everything you hear. Your friends and colleagues will be reassured that they are truly being listened to!
Ask at least 3 questions. Even if you have a good general understanding of the conversation, the very act of asking questions will solidify it in your memory.
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