Developing Good Listening Skills

Five businesspeople at boardroom table smiling

Have you ever really paid attention to how you listen to someone when they are speaking to you?

Do you always give them your full attention?  I remember when my children were young and they would come and ask for a snack to eat and it seemed that I would always immediately say no, but then when I fully had processed what they were asking I would change my mind.

Why?  Because I was on auto-response and I was not fully engaged to what they were saying.

I think the “auto-response” part of us just seems to kick in automatically before our brain connects with what the speaker is saying.  This can cause people who are speaking to us to become upset or over time eventually disconnected from us.

There are four key steps to engage in “Active listening” which are very important for us to learn and implement in our every-day life.

  1. Pay attention – Do not let distractions get in the way when someone is talking to us.
  2. Show that you are listening – Nod your head or ask further questions.
  3. Provide feedback – How will they know you have heard them if you do not give feedback on what was said.
  4. Defer judgement – Do not interrupt what is being said.  Wait until the speaker is through and you have heard everything and processed it, then you can say what you think, not before they are done.

Active listening takes concentration and determination because it is hard for us to stop thinking and really listen.  We are creatures of habit and good listening skills usually do not come naturally to most of us, they need to be developed.

If you take the time to develop good, active listening skills, you will be a person that others will want to be around.

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” –Bryant H. McGill

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