Improve Your Listening Improve Your Life!
How would you rate your listening skills on a scale of 1 - 10, with 1 being incompetent to 10 being extraordinary. Where would you fall?
Have you ever had a moment in which your listening skills let you down?
In this Productivity Enhancement Newsletter, I share three action steps to curb behaviours that keep us from listening effectively and with discernment.
But before that I want us to pause to reflect on the benefits of being an exceptional listener.
VALUE OF LISTENING
I believe that listening is the most undervalued competence. Yet, how many formal courses have you taken with Listening as the headline topic?
The capacity to listen with empathy, discernment and a willingness to understand addresses a cross-section of interpersonal and team challenges.
Exceptional listeners have a way of engaging others easily. They build trust because they glean so much about us that we have no alternative but to believe that they care.
Those are career boosting and relationship building outcomes that we should all desire.
ACTION STEP #1: STEP OUT OF YOUR HEAD INTO THEIR SHOES
For me, the number one challenge to effective listening is that we spend too much of interactions in our head.
This goes beyond the relentless distractions. Even when we are actively engaged, we tend to be caught up with our response to what was just said. Still worse, we can't wait for the other party to pause to unload the points that have been the focus of our thoughts.
To listen effectively, we have to get out of our heads. We have to learn to "embrace" the speaker figuratively.
Listen not just to words but to tone, nuances, body language, and emotional cues. Ask clarifying questions and send clear signals that they are the centre of our attention and that we are keen to learn what it is that they have to share.
Of course, it is not easy!
Suppose you totally disagree with their point of view?
What if you really need to get across your point and you are being taken on meandering journey?
What if you don't consider this relationship to be important and think that it is not worth the investment?
If those are overriding considerations, then maybe the alternative is to stay in our head and lose out on really connecting.
ACTION STEP #2: LEARN TO READ BEHAVIOURAL PREFERENCES
We "hear" others differently based on our behavioural styles.
In our DISCerning Communication model, we share a primer in the language of behaviours.
Individuals with a preference for Dominance (D-Style behavioural tools) tend to listen for key words while seeking an early opportunity to share.
On the other end of the spectrum, individuals with a preference for Steadiness (S-Style) want their listeners to capture all the nuances of the carefully chosen words, the intentional phrasing, pitch, pauses and accompanying body language.
All that is lost on the counterpart that latches on to the odd word and goes off on a frolic of their own.
That is the disaster that takes place with unsettling frequency.
But there is a fix. Learn to "speak" the language of behaviours.
As a kickstart, email me to request a copy of my prized publication "DISCerning Listening".
ACTION STEP #3: FOCUS ON THE WHY OF YOUR LISTENING
Sitting in the front of the TV while the News is on is listening. And your casual approach might be appropriate. Getting life and death instructions requires another type of listening.
It makes sense for us to pay attention to why we are listening in different situations.
What is the objective?
What is the nature of the relationship?
What is at stake?
That simple exercise has the effect of prompting us to rein in wandering thoughts when that is required.
HELP ON OFFER
The DISCerning Listening publication drills down into practical steps to improve your Listening. Request a copy: email@example.com