There are a lot of tricks that will make you a better listener. We’ve been over quite a few during this brief tutorial on being a better listener. As we wrap things up, I want to share some tips that will make you even better. Much of listening is mechanical. Staying focused, using active listening, and looking someone in the eye are all very useful. When you want to take listening to a whole new level, you’ve got to get to the heart of the matter. The more you care, the better you’ll listen.
Here are some tips that come straight from the heart and will make you an even better listener.
TIP: Give your full attention
TIP: Drop your agenda
TIP: Put yourself in their shoes
When it comes to the heart of listening, there’s more to it than being professional or technically good at listening. Adding the human touch makes all the difference. Here’s why-
Give your full attention- Be present with your whole mind and body. Set your phone down or turn it off. Lower the lid to your laptop, and make sure you are free of distractions. Place your body in an open and welcoming position. Lean in and be ready to listen. Your intentional presence will send the message that you are completely engaged in the conversation.
Drop your agenda- A lot of people are listening to speak. Whether it’s to share an idea, solve a problem, or get a word in edgewise. It’s important to drop any agenda you may have and be fully focused on what someone else wants or needs at the time. The fact is you may be influenced by your own thoughts, wants, and needs which may conflict with what is truly going on. Leave any assumptions out of the conversation and spend time listening without any preconceived ideas of what is going to be said.
Put yourself in their shoes – Trying to imagine what someone is feeling or going through will take you to a deep and powerful place to listen. If you can imagine the feelings they are expressing or reflect on a time you felt similarly, you can be compelled to listen more intently. Empathy is being able to understand where someone is coming from and experiencing their feelings without having them yourself. Sympathy is deeper in that it comes from having experienced the same or similar feelings. Use both to help you listen better and be even more effective.
You can do all the right things…lean in, listen, nod, and say you understand, but that doesn’t mean you are listening to your fullest capacity. When you really need to take things to a new level and connect deeply, give your full attention, drop any agenda, and put yourself in someone else’s shoes. These tips will have you mastering listening and being the best support possible when people need you most.