I’m sure we have all been frustrated by a problem you have been working on and for whatever reason you just cannot work out a solution. Sound familiar?
How many times have you then gone on to describe the problem to someone else and in doing so suddenly realise that you have had the solution all along? You go away with your solution and the other party is left wondering what that was all about and what they contributed.
In reality the third party provided an invaluable service just by being there and listening, giving you the space to think by expressing the problem in hand.
Listening is such a powerful tool that everyone should learn to use it more effectively both in the workplace and within our personal relationships too. Here are five tips for becoming a better listener.

  1. focus – remove all distractions and concentrate on whoever is speaking. This means ignoring your phone and emails. Ideally go somewhere quiet to talk and leave your phone behind.
  2. make time – if you are in a rush you won’t be focused on the conversation and you won’t be listening properly as your mind will be elsewhere. Clear space in your diary to ensure that you can concentrate on the discussion.
  3. ask questions and give feedback – show that you are listening by asking pertinent questions at the appropriate moment. Even signalling that you are listening through visual cues such as nodding can be helpful.
  4. no ifs, no buts but and When you do speak don’t start your sentence with “if” or “but” which have negative connotations use “and” to build on what the speaker has just said.
  5. remember If this is a follow-up conversation show that you were listening last time by including a relevant point from that conversation.

If you do all the above you will not only become a better listener but you will also get much more out of your conversations too.

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