Here’s a little secret that can change your life.
It. Can. Change. Your. Life… Dramatically.
The secret? LISTEN
Yes, it’s true. The secret that can change your life is to be a good listener.
Well, you say. I listen all of the time. I listen at work to my customers/patients/clients. I listen to my staff/coworkers. I listen at home to my family. I listen to my friends. I do all of this listening and my life has not changed dramatically.
And I would tell you that your ears have picked up sound but you have not listened.
Stephen Covey says in his famous book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that we should “Seek to understand before being understood” And one of the most effective ways to do that is to listen. Because, here’s the thing….
EVERYBODY HAS A STORY!
And, if you express an interest by listening, everybody wants to tell you their story. This means you need to demonstrate high quality listening skills.
5 TIPS ON HOW TO BE A TRULY GREAT LISTENER
1.) Be mindful of your body language…people can always tell when the listener isn’t really listening. Don’t fidget. Don’t look at something else that has distracted you. Don’t look your watch and for goodness sake, don’t take phone calls or texts. #fail
2.) Maintain good and appropriate eye contact. That doesn’t mean staring without blinking. By looking in the speaker’s eyes, you can convey interest and understanding.
3.) Do not let your mind start constructing a response, or a story that reminds you of their story, or even a rebuttal. Let your mind be filled with the story of your speaker. Do not diss their story by formulating your own story in your head. #rude
4.) Show that you are actively listening by asking related questions. (Note…refer to #3…do not be tempted to start telling your related story). Ask questions that are pertinent to what your speaker has been sharing. Let them feel you are interested. Encourage them.
5.) Last but definitely not least…pay attention! I know that this seems obvious but, being a great listener is not easy. It takes a lot of concentration and work to be a great listener and so it is easy for your attention to slip away.
What is the point to all of this you ask? How will this change my life?
By being a great listener, you win people’s trust and respect. You will foster a sense of genuine care for the speaker and they, in turn, will entrust you with their faith in you. You have exponentially increased your credibility factor by being an interested listener. This will profoundly affect both your personal and your business life. People always remember those who truly take an interest in them and in their story. If you are in a service industry, remember to keep record of the highlights of the “story” so that you can refer to it at a later time with this customer. I can promise you…the outcome will be amazing….if you demonstrate genuinely great listening skills. Go ahead and give it a try! You might just love what you hear!
What are your experiences with listening and being heard? Do you have other tips that might enhance the listening experience? Do you have any pet peeves to share that relate to poor listening skills?