Time To Lend An Ear
Listen Up Because It Is Listening Time
There are many times when we are ‘listening’ to our bosses as they are explaining some high priority task or a new policy, while our brain is on its own mental vacation to Hawaii. In a few seconds, you are at the beach, relaxing with a nice beverage in your hand with the sound of waves melting in your ears. But then you come back to reality- only to notice that you have missed out everything! And if you are lucky enough, your boss didn’t notice you were gone.
There are also cases when you are listening to your client (or maybe prospective client) explain an issue, but your brain is somewhere else, imagining what you will do in the evening. But when they stop talking and wait for your suggestion, you are blank. This is because thanks to your listening skills, you completely missed the point!
There is a reason why we all have one mouth and two ears. This is because listening is twice as essential as talking when it comes to effective communication. If you cannot communicate effectively, it means you don’t listen carefully. Lack of listening skills is not only inefficient, it is also expensive. It can lead to mistakes and misunderstandings, can ruin employee and client relations, raise the number of unsatisfied and angry clients, and negatively affect the overall profitability of the company.
So if listening skills are that important, how can we improve them? The bad news is that becoming good listeners can be a difficult task. But if you follow a few points, it will become simpler.
Focus completely on the one who is talking to you. Multi-tasking doesn’t go well with good listening. So whatever you are doing, stop it and give your mind to the speaker. If they deserve your time, they also deserve your attention.
It plays an important part in efficient listening. You made the decision that the speaker deserves your attention, so you must be convinced that they have important things to say. With a negative attitude, you wouldn’t be able to focus anyway.
It plays an important role in staying focused. If you find your mind wandering off, adjust your position. Take small notes in between and if any question pops in your head that you would want to ask later, write it down.
You could be face to face with the person, or on phone- it is always best to use good tone of voice and verbal nods like ‘yes’, ‘mmm hmmm’, ‘uh huh’, ‘I see’, ‘oh’ etc. This would tell the speaker that you are completely focused. If you are face to face with them, make sure your body language says that you are interested. Sit up straight and maintain eye contact.
Allow the speaker to finish before you talk to them. Interrupting in between is considered rude. You should pause for a few seconds after they have finished and not shoot directly.
Before you ask a question, make sure you completely understand what they said. You can start with, ‘If I understood correctly, …’
And now the good news – effective listening is the most efficient and least expensive way to increase the company’s customer service and sales along with overall communication. And as you will become a better listener, it will help you a lot in your career as well.