Active listening is very important in most walks of life to be able to develop both professional and personal relationships. Have you ever had the feeling where you felt a manager was really actively listening to what you said and how you felt? Chances are it was a beneficial interaction and left you feeling good.
Sometimes, certain interactions with others – especially if they appear walled off, rebut everything you say and do not appear to acknowledge your points – can be extremely frustrating, therefore a timeout is usually best otherwise the situation can escalate and tend to go off the rails. Sometimes you may need to give that person a lot of space as the frustration may not be about you but the frustration of not ‘knowing’ what to say.
Here are some tips for listening:
- Often, starting with ‘what do we both want’ is a good place to start – hopefully, you are both on the same page, otherwise write down some options of what you want. It will be tricky if one person wants a totally different outcome from the other – there may not be room for compromise. But I don’t recommend that you agree to something you don’t want!
- Try not to interrupt – sometimes it’s tricky on the phone as you cannot see when the other person has finished talking or what their facial expressions are but let them speak
- Perhaps agree a ‘you talk for five minutes’ then ‘I talk for five minutes’ situation
- Full eye contact with a neutral face – i.e. no sneers, or eye rolling
- Open body language as much as possible
- Ask questions – don’t make assumptions – if you are not sure, ask what they mean about something
- Try and listen to specific types of words the person is using – are they more feeling-based words, or facts
- Take deep breaths and count in your head if you feel yourself getting stressed
- Really listen – don’t try and think up your next answer as they are talking or think one step ahead – stay in the present – listen to the clues they give you – it’s not you versus me – hopefully you are looking for a win-win situation?
- Don’t jump and judge just because the viewpoint is different
- Respond from the ‘I’ position – not you this, you that, you the other – that never works as you are attacking the other person
- No distractions – phones, other people – find a quiet place where you can both focus on the conversation
This is just a ‘starter for 10’. For more information on the subject of listening, feel free to get in touch with me here.