Have you ever had that feeling when having a conversation with someone that you are just waiting for them to finish before you can say what you want to say?
I know have. When it happens, what it suggests to me is that I am hearing what they say but I am not listening to them.
I don’t think I am much different to anyone else and I think this is one of the biggest challenges that we face when it comes to trying to develop the relationships we have, whether in our business or personal lives.
Hearing is something that (on the assumption that we have good and working ears) we do automatically. We can’t turn our ears off. However, listening is something that takes conscious effort and is done with our brains, where we have to consciously turn our brains on to really understand what is being said to us.
More often or not, people who don’t listen don’t do so because they have poor hearing. They don’t listen for a number of other reasons like:
- They get distracted by what is going on around you
- They get distracted by the other person’s tone, choice of words, body language etc
- There is relationship history between the two people, including unresolved issues
- One or both of them is just not interested
- They have no respect or time for the other person
- They believe that the other person is wrong and can’t wait to tell them so
- There is another agenda in play
- They are listening to their inner voice too much
- They’re talking too fast or in too much detail
- Etc etc etc
I am sure there are many more and any, or all, of these can be in play at any one time.
I know, it’s very easy to get caught up in our own stuff on a day-to-day basis and skip listening as a skill that we need to work on as it takes time and effort. But, taking a little time and effort and applying this to yourself and your business is a guaranteed way to connect more with your customers, improve your sales, team performance, leadership, employee engagement and overall business growth.
I think all of us can be better listeners if we have the desire to be better.
If you do, here are some things that I have learnt along the way that I try to apply to help me become a better listener:
- Don’t assume you know where the conversation is going
- Try and suspend your own agenda and quieten your inner voice.
- Keep distractions to a minimum by turning off your phone or closing your laptop
Personally, I’ve found that working on my listening skills has had a tremendous, and positive impact, on all of my relationships, business and personal. I’ve also found that listening to others is one of the greatest compliments you can pay them.
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Photo Credit: Jesslee Cuizon