What’s the most crucial part of communication? Yep, you guessed it: listening. It’s important in every aspect of life and listening in business is certainly no exception. In fact, it often means the difference between failure and success. Listening isn’t always easy, but good news: It’s a skill you can work on. Here are some tips that can make you better at it.
It’s the biggest reason why so many people suck at listening — we’re just so dang distracted. When was the last time you tried to have a conversation with someone and instead of listening to you their attention was on their phone? About 10 seconds ago? Yeah, same. When you’re having a conversation, eliminate distractions (i.e. put your phone away). You might think you can simultaneously text and listen, but no one can.
Stop thinking about what you’ll say next.
So often during conversations we’re just waiting for our turn to speak. And sure, thoughtful responses are important, but you can’t focus on listening while also formulating your next response. So slow your roll — listen without planning your next move. If you end up forgetting something you meant to say earlier, then it probably wasn’t very important to begin with.
Don’t assume you already know what someone is going to say.
Try approaching each conversation you have with an open mind. Too often we assume we already know what someone is going to say before they even speak. But as soon as we set that expectation, we’ve already failed at listening. Developing a script in our minds about how a conversation should go is really limiting, so don’t do it.
It’s a no-brainer, right? But so many of us are guilty of interrupting. Why do we do it? Well, either someone is saying something we don’t want to hear or we assume we already know where they’re going and cut them off. Either way, it’s not cool. Not only is it rude, but it sends the message to people that what you have to say is more important than what they’re saying.
Be honest when you’re not in a good listening mood.
Sometimes we’re just not in the mood to listen. Maybe we’re not feeling well or are distracted. That’s OK — no one is a good listener all the time. So when you’re not in the mood to listen, own up to it. If someone tries to engage in a conversation that requires your listening be on point, ask to revisit the convo when you’re better able to focus.
If you have any other tips on how to listen better, we’re all ears — share them with us on Twitter @moproteam.