Are you ListeningMeet Billie–our little terrier adopted from the Pasadena Humane Society a few months ago. Here she is demonstrating three signs of a good listener: Ears open. Mouth closed. Eyes attentive.

Effective communication is two-way communication. Broadcasting + listening. Most of us are really good at the former, not always so good at the latter.

Whether you are communicating one-on-one — in a professional or personal relationship — or whether you are communicating with a larger audience of customers, employees or other stakeholders, your reward for good listening skills will be enhanced understanding and engagement.

Here are our tips for improved listening.

  • Focus on the person speaking. Make good eye contact.
  • Remove/ignore items or sounds that distract.
  • Focus on the information he/she is trying to impart and the feelings he/she is trying to convey.
  • As you listen:
    • Ask yourself, “What am I hearing?”
    • Ask yourself, “What feelings am I ‘hearing’?”
    • Ask yourself, “What is the message?”
    • Don’t react. Refrain from sharing your feelings for the moment.
    • Avoid arguing (in your head) with the message you are hearing.
  • Confirm and clarify the message.
    • Let the other person breathe a moment. Play back what you heard:   “What I hear you saying is…..”
    • Ask simple questions: how, what, why, which? Be sure you understand what the speaker’s words mean, as certain words may hold different meanings/associations/connotations according to a person’s background and experience, and therefore may carry emotional connections.
  • Ask the speaker what he/she would like to see happen next. BE CAREFUL not to try to remedy the situation for him/her. Your job is to listen.
  • Encourage the speaker to take the next step or, if appropriate, suggest that you meet again to continue the conversation.
  • Thank the speaker for sharing with you. That will go a long way in your relationship.

For tips on how to demonstrate that you’re listening to specific groups such as customers, employees and others, email us at [email protected] and we’ll be in touch to listen to you.

Recommended resources:

  • Are You Really Listening? Keys to Successful Communication by Paul J. Donoghue, Ph.D., and Mary E. Siegel, Ph.D.
  • RSA Video Short: Dr. Brené Brown, “The Power of Empathy”