Listening Skills for Personal and Professional Success
Realistically, we spend about half of our time listening to people. We take instructions from our boss, participate in group discussions, and listen to our colleagues, friends and relatives. Unfortunately, many do not recognize the importance of developing good listening skills. Poor listening skills can cost you an important sales deal, a vital promotion, or even a valued relationship. It is important to realize the importance of good listening skills, and to work at developing them if we want to achieve success in both our professional and personal life.
One primary reason to actively listening is to obtain information. We also listen to gain understanding, and for enjoyment as well.
Research has shown that we generally retain 25-50% of what we actually listen too, meaning that about 50% of the data is lost due to poor listening skills. If we can strengthen our listening skills, we can increase our productivity, enhance our negotiation skills and avoid conflicts.
How to Develop Listening Skills
Like other communication skills, the listening skill can be learned, practiced and improved. By paying attention to our own communication behaviors, we can begin to develop and maximize our listening skills effectively.
Be an Active Listener
A fundamental key to good listening is active listening. This involves not just listening to the words being spoken, but processing those words and trying to understand the complete message. Remember, communication involves verbal and non-verbal aptitudes, and improving our listening skills means we have to pay close attention to both.
When listening, it is important to observe the speaker, and focus on their gestures and body language.
Active listening also requires focus, and not letting your thoughts wander from the speaker. If you find it difficult at times to concentrate, mentally repeat the words being spoken and you will find it easier to focus on the message being conveyed.
A speaker needs to be aware that you are listening, and understand what is being spoken. Use simple body language, like nodding your head or smiling, or verbal comments to confirm that you are listening, and exhibit a posture that demonstrates open body language.
• Give Feedback
By providing feedback, you are able to confirm that whatever you heard and understood is the message the speaker meant to convey. Often, our own perceptions, and resulting assumptions, twist the message that was spoken. By asking questions, reaffirming statements, and summarizing points, you can make sure that you got the same message the speaker wanted you to.
Tips on Better Listening Skills
- Always focus on the speaker.
- Never interrupt.
- Do not allow environmental factors to distract you.
- Give open and honest response.
- Allow the speaker to finish before you ask any question.
- Do not get emotional.
Consistently make conscious efforts to put to use these tips, and you will find your listening skills improve. More importantly, when you truly improve your listening skills, you will find that your professional and personal life inevitably becomes more successful and satisfying.