6 Simple Steps to Developing Your Listening Skills

Listening is one of the most highly prized skills in the work place.  Yet unlike reading and writing, we are never taught how to listen.  Improving your listening skills can make a huge difference both at work and more generally in relationships.  Given that you are not trained in listening, what simple steps can you take straight away to develop these skills?

Start Noticing

Chances are that in business you attend a lot of meetings.  It is likely that in those meetings there is a lot of talking but not a lot of listening.  People believe that if they are talking they are contributing.  They therefore make remarks just to feel like they are contributing.

Start noticing how much time you and your team put into listening in the work place.

Avoid Interrupting

How often do you see someone in full flow explaining something important when another person interrupts them?  Chances are that you (and indeed all of us) interrupt from time from time to time.  The problem is:

• The other person is less likely to listen to you

• If you interrupt when another person is in mid flow they lose their train of thought

Set yourself a challenge of not interrupting and see what difference it makes to your contributions and quality of decisions.

Stop Finishing Other Peoples Sentences

Sometimes it can be helpful to fill in gaps for someone if they are stuck.  Do it too often and it becomes a real irritation.  Even worse, you could end up putting your foot in it and reminding the other party of something that they may have forgotten about (like a time the service was not as good as they would not have liked).

Stop Trying To Points Score

How often you have been asked a question and then as you give your answer, the other person starts to tell you what they believe is an even better story related to them?  If you ask someone a question, by all means share your experiences to build rapport, but not to appear superior.

Don’t Jump In Too Quickly

On many occasions people just want to be heard.  They are not looking for your advice or suggestions.  A common mistake that many people make when it comes to listening is to jump in too quickly offering their view.  Make sure that you have given the other person the opportunity to be heard and only then offer your suggestions.

Reflect Back

When listening, it is often useful to reflect back in your own words what you understand from what has been said.  The key benefits of reflecting back include:

• The other party recognises that the listener is trying to understand

• It allows the opportunity to clarify

Listening is a highly sought after attribute in managers and leaders.  By making some simple changes, you can start to excel in this area.   What tips would you add?

About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

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