I have been a reflective listener all my life. It gives me comfort relaying what I have heard back to the speaker, in a way that I demonstrate that I have understood and received the message. It worked wonders for me in my corporate career too, when I needed to understand the aspects of a project so that I could implement a strategy to deliver on the project scope.
In some instances, my colleagues might have become a little frustrated with my listening process, in that when I would repeat back to them, what I had understood, they would reply with a curt..”That’s what I said” I was never offended by this, and I would reiterate that I simply wanted to make sure that I myself had understood their direction. This got me to thinking. How do other people listen?
Do we actively listen? So I read up on active listening and found out that we really do take this particular sense for granted! I was absolutely amazed by all of the information available just on listening. And there I thought we just had to open our ears. I remember my mother, who had repeatedly asked me to complete a chore and because I was actively engaged in a far more enjoyable pursuit at the time, I was roller skating in the driveway, my mother eventually screamed out the window..” will you open your ears and listen to me!…”
In any event, from my readings, I discovered six tips that will make you a better active listener. Here goes…listen up…
Tip 1 — Pay Attention/Be attentive
Absolutely reasonable and it goes without saying. So you have to be in the moment and be ready to respond with questions based on the content you are listening to.
Tip 2 — No judging
If you are positioning yourself to judge the content being delivered, the content you are supposed to be actively listening to, you are evidently not fully listen. Be patient enough to listen to the entire scope of the content, before you judge. Ask questions or ask for clarification rather than judging the content.
Tip 3 — Reflect
This one is really the powerhouse of active listening. It doesn’t give you any room to judge first and offers you a wonderful opportunity to reiterate and absorb the content fully. We are often very quick to respond, and reflecting first gives you a chance to really think about you have heard. Critical thinking here is a great tool to use.
Tip 4 — Be attuned to the emotions and body language of the speaker
I had a colleague who often used to use her hands to restate a very important aspect of a project that she was conveying. I knew that when the hands came out, this was an aspect that was critically important to the work that we would be doing. Be aware of tonality, hand gestures, and body language.
Tip 5 — Ask open-ended questions
To really probe and clarify the position of the speaker, especially if the message is something that you will have to repeat or implement in a project, ask questions that fully clarify your position.
Tip 6 — Summarise
Bullet points are great for a summary but don't forget the importance of the foundations of each point.