Cultivate Effective Listening Skills to Become an Unforgettable Communicator
His eyes wander while you share your exciting news and he responds with a generic, “That’s nice.” It doesn’t feel good when you’re on the receiving end of poor listening does it? Listening with half an ear is not effective listening! Yet we’re all guilty of it at times…
Effective listening matters – it is the one skill that creates the best relationships, drastically reduces misunderstanding and mistakes, leads to more innovative solutions, and produces greater productivity. But there’s so much more to it than hearing the words spoken to you. Over 80% of communication is nonverbal, so really listening is the process of attending to another’s entire system of communication in a way that shows you actually receive it.
Yes, there are two parts to effective listening – receiving the message accurately and letting the other person know that you really got it! Let’s examine some of the ways you can do this…
Reassure the person that you’re receiving the message accurately. Good communication requires a high level of self-awareness and mindfulness. This enables you to be fully aware of the other person and of your own internal reactions and communication style.
There are three levels of effective listening:
1) Listening for information. Focus and pay attention to the speaker, not letting your mind wander and not doing distracting thing like shuffling papers or picking your fingernails. Avoid mentally preparing your answering comment. Have patience so you don’t interrupt, talk over them, or finish their sentences. Encourage them to continue speaking by asking on-topic questions when they pause. When they’re finished, paraphrase what you heard to make sure you understand them.
2) Listening for the person’s underlying emotion. Pay attention to how the person uses words, body language, and tone of voice. You also need to be aware of what’s not being said. Look for inconsistencies in their communication. For example, someone might say they’re happy, but their dull, tear-filled eyes say something else. So look for congruency in verbal and non-verbal messaging.
3) Listening for the need or desire that’s driving the emotion. Put yourself in their shoes so you can feel what they’re feeling. Keep a non-judgmental, open mind and try to piece together all of the isolated bits of information so you see the whole picture. When you are emotionally open, your mirror neurons help you resonate emotionally with the other person. You’ll be able to perceive their point of view more accurately, which increases the sense of rapport. This is easiest if you’re centered. Make the other person feel validated by saying, “I can understand how you might feel that way”. Or, “You must have been thrilled!”
Reassure the person that you understand them. You can convey this by your nonverbal communication (smiles and head nods) and by your attitude of attention, respect, compassion, interest, curiosity and caring. This requires that you acknowledge how the other person is feeling emotionally and convey that this is important to you. Be sure to match the person to build rapport. So, if a person is looking down, looking down or away helps the person experience greater safety and increased rapport. If they’re maintaining eye contact, don’t let your gaze wander elsewhere.
As Ralph G. Nichols aptly said, “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” Learning effective listening skills is a must if you’re a life coach, a business owner, a supervisor, a teacher, a parent… Really anyone who is interested in leadership needs to be “great” rather than just good at listening.
We’ve found that NLP techniques accelerate your ability to communicate on a much deeper level. Please clear your calendar for February 2-5, 2017 so you can attend our Foundations of Life Coaching and NLP training. You’ll find a group of like-minded professionals who are just as motivated as you to be master communicators. Feel free to contact us with any questions.
Tags: Listening Skills