“If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two tongues and one ear.” Mark Twain.
There are many life skills I constantly strive to improve upon such as diet and exercise. Better communication skills is another. Talking less…listening more!
We live in a high-tech, high-speed, high-stress world. Communication is more important then ever, yet often we seem to devote less and less time to really listening to one another. Authentic listening has become a rare gift. It helps to build relationships, solve problems, ensure understanding, resolve conflicts, and improve accuracy. Effective listening can also mean fewer errors and less wasted time.–All the things we strive for on a daily basis at school.
A good listener will listen not only to what is being said, but also reflect on what is left unsaid or only partially said.
Consider these 5 ideas for improved listening skills:
1. Don’t Talk: Don’t talk, listen. When somebody else is talking, listen to what they are saying, do not interrupt, talk over them or finish their sentences for them. Stop—— just listen.
2. Prepare to Listen: Focus on the speaker. Put other things out of your mind. We can easily be distracted by other thoughts. Put other thoughts out of your mind and concentrate on the messages that are being communicated to you. This one may need to be practiced.
3. Put the Speaker at Ease: Remember their needs and concerns. Nod or use other gestures or words to encourage them to continue and maintain eye contact.
4. Empathise: Try to understand the other person’s point of view. Look at issues from their perspective and let go of preconceived ideas.
5. Wait and Watch for Non-Verbal Communication: We don’t just listen with our ears but also with our eyes – watch and pick up the additional information being transmitted via non-verbal communication.
We are in the learning business! Consider the additional opportunities that await with excellent listening skills.