Whether you are a manager, leader or team member working across the organisation, listening is a key communication skill. We are all taught to speak and how to write, yet far fewer of us have been taught how to listen effectively. We might have been told to listen by our parents but how many parents actually demonstrated how to listen.
There are a whole host of reasons why we struggle when it comes to listening, including:
Failing to focus
Lack of interest
Complexity in what is being communicated
We like to hear our own voice and opinions
We worry that if we don’t keep speaking we will miss out in getting our point across.
So what specific steps can you take to improve your listening skills?
1. Fully Focus
Give all of your attention to the person who is speaking and focus on really understanding what they are saying and the points they are trying to make.
2. Ask Questions
Asking questions gives a very clear message to the other person that you are listening and they are being heard.
3. Summarise and Clarify
This is a great technique for checking understanding. It is extremely beneficial if the person speaking is talking about something technical or an area that you are unfamiliar with. It can also be useful when handling difficult situations like a staffing issue. It might sound something like, so what I think I heard was x, is that right?
4. Minimise interruptions
Resist the temptation to keep interrupting people. You can simply ask them if now is a good point to make some points in response to what they have said.
Bottom Line – Some simple changes can make a significant impact on your listening skills.
Duncan Brodie helps accountants and professionals build their management, leadership and interpersonal skills in order to successfully climb the career ladder.
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.