Everyone wants to be heard! It’s true isn’t it? We all want to feel that people are actually listening to us.
How many times have you been in conversation with someone and had difficulty really listening to what they were saying or trying to say? Maybe it was because you had a hard time staying focused?
Communications is one of the 26 competencies within Social and Emotional Intelligence. And listening is the number one way to improve communications; it bridges the gap between us much more so than talking.
Listening requires emotional strength. Stephen Covey, in his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” states that listening involves patience, openness, and the desire to understand – highly developed qualities of character.
When we don’t listen we can come off as indifferent or uncaring, which makes others uncomfortable, less trusting and less communicative.
Here are 3 Steps to help you listen more effectively:
Calm your mind to help you focus.
Try taking deep breaths when you find your mind start to wander, and be sure to continue to look the person in the eyes. Try not to be distracted by your surroundings. If you find that you have lost focus, kindly ask them to repeat what they just said. It simply shows that you are paying attention.
A funny story: a good friend of mine tends to speak very quickly. We were having a conversation and she was telling me something about her business. Now because she speaks so quickly I was having a hard time taking in everything she was saying. I interrupted to ask her a question and her response to me was: I just told you that a few minutes ago. So I reminded her about her speed talking, and we both laughed.
Patience and Respect.
Allow a person to finish talking before you start. Once they appear to have finished talking, “count to five”. People pause during their conversation sometimes to think. By counting to five you are allowing them time to finish without interruptions.
Asking questions out of genuine curiosity shows you are truly interested in what the person has to say. It also ensures you have heard them correctly.
The above three steps are a good start to improve your listening skills. It is an excellent way for you to build healthy relationships, which can lead to more referrals and prospects turning into clients.