Eight Steps to Becoming a Superb Listener

July 3, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

If there were just 3 foundation skills necessary for business success I believe Self-Awareness, Listening and Empathy are about as important is skills get unless you are on a “desert island” all alone. Listening is strategically placed between Self-Awareness (you) and Empathy (others) and is a “mission critical” piece that connects the two yet distances you from your peers (most others).

There are no high school or college courses in listening. There is nothing like Listening 101 on the Freshman or any other school year course selection guide. You cannot get a degree in Listening, even though your ability to listen may well determine your success or failure at many different things. So important is listening that I thought it might be beneficial to lay out the steps to superior listening skills. Here are the eight (8) steps that will make you a superb listener.

  1. Prepare to Listen by deciding ahead of time that there is always something to be gained by listening to what other have to say. Remember that listening is not deciding. All too often, we decide ahead of time whether the other person or group or source has anything to say that we believe is right or relevant and pre-decide if we want to hear what they have to say.
  2. Demonstrate respect for the person or group by being attentive, acting alert, making eye contact and being quite while they are talking.
  3. Stay focused, resist mind-wandering and consider what is being said.
  4. Listen to understand. All too often we decide before we listen and sometimes even before we hear.
  5. Ask clarifying questions. Many people don’t ask questions because they do not want to appear unaware or stupid. Asking questions may be one of the smartest things you can do.
  6. Realize you are not required to give a response unless you are asked a question. It is OK to remain silent unless you are asked to respond. Often someone else will have the same question as you and will ask it.
  7. The less you say the more you can listen – you can’t listen with your mouth open. Refrain from talking or doing things that distract from listening for your own sake and the sake of others who want to hear what the speaker has to say.
  8. Remember that listening is not preparing to speak. Stay focused on what the speaker is saying, not building a cool rebuttal that will make others think you are smart. Think about what the speaker is saying. This is much easier said than done because we can listen a lot faster than someone can speak and so the mind kicks in and out of gear to keep itself occupied.

Practice these eight steps daily for 30 days and see what a difference they can make. All really great leaders were considered great listeners.

GMS Talent L P and Stephen J. Blakesley are Training and Certification Partners with Multiple Health Systems, MHS Inc http://www.eipowered.com. We offer training and certification in the EQi and EQ360. Additionally, we offer EQi assessments, training and coaching for individuals, teams, and organizations. Contact us at: 281-444-5050 or Email us at info@gmstalent.com for additional information.

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