We all know that listening is a important skill. Both personally and professionally, being a good listener can make or break your success. Here are 4 tips, originally described by Dr. Jerry Bell (http://www.bellleadership.com/) to amp up your listening skills and become an active listener.
- Commit! It's a Lifestyle
- To Listen or Not to Listen
- Take Notes
- Ask 5 Questions
Commit. Listening is a Lifestyle
This first tip is simple. Realize that being a listener is a lifestyle. I'll give an example. I was talking to a friend the other day, one who is trying to go to the gym more often. I explained my gym routine in terms it's not if, it's when. As in, when I wake up in the morning I don't ask my self IF I'm going to the gym today. I ask myself, WHEN am I going to the gym today? It's already programmed into my lifestyle/routine. Committing to being an active listener is a similar commitment.
With most lifestyle changes (if you aren't already a world class listener), you'll need to practice. Fortunately, in this instance, practicing doesn't include sweating.
To Listen or Not to Listen
The second tip extends the first tip and applies it on a per conversation basis. TO LISTEN to someone, show them with your body language and eye contact that you are listening. You should reflect their thoughts and ideas back to them in your responses. And if you are not able to give someone your full attention at any moment, tell them! Apologize and ask them if there is another time you can set aside to speak to each other, when you are able to give your full attention.
Let's go back to grade school! Taking notes helps you remember what was discussed in any given conversation, plain and simple. Your notes will also help you prepare for the next tip....
Ask 5 Questions
This is my favorite tip. Why? This tip really engages you in the conversation. It takes listening to a whole new level. At this point you will achieve full 'active listener' status. Ask questions that you may have thought about while taking notes. Ask who, what, where, when, why and how if you don't know the answers already. If anyone has any doubt that you were paying attention to them, asking questions will seal the deal.