BE A “PRO” COMMUNICATOR
There is a reason we were given two ears and one mouth. You do not learn anything when you are talking, only when you are listening. It is amazing how few people are skillful at listening given its importance to one’s personal and professional success. The best listeners possess a competitive advantage in securing the right job, friends and mate.
Mastering the art of listening is within the capabilities of everyone. Few individuals, however, are prepared to invest the effort and discipline it takes to do so. You cannot become an excellent communicator without first being an excellent listener.
The first requirement in mastering this art is being an active listener as opposed to a passive listener. This involves adopting a specific mind-set in approaching conversations with the objective of truly hearing and understanding what is being said. To be an effective active listener, you have to:
The most common actions that inhibit your ability to be an effective listener are:
In business and professional situations, it is often necessary to seek clarification of what you hear and are being told. This is especially critical with descriptions of assignments, tasks, problems and issues. If there is any ambiguity or confusion in your mind in this regard, request that the speaker restate what he or she said. Or ask, “Can you be more specific or give me an example?” It may also be helpful for you to paraphrase back what you think was said by saying to the speaker, “If I understand you properly, you are asking me to … Is this correct?”
Following such a conversation, if the subject was important, make notes on exactly what was said. Date and keep them. This is a valuable practice to follow whenever you are going to be held accountable for performing an assignment or project of any consequence.
To truly understand what is being said, you have to ask the right questions to get the right answers. As Rudyard Kipling said on this subject:
I keep six honest serving men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
Finally, to be an effective listener, you have to make yourself available to do so. You have to unplug from your “busy schedule” on a regular basis to ask those around you — co-workers, friends, family members — “How are you doing?” and “What’s up?” If someone starts acting in an uncharacteristic manner, seems unusually quiet or is avoiding you, that is a sure sign that you need to perform some serious listening with that person ASAP.
Decide today to become a champion listener. When you master the art of listening, you will be surprised at how much all aspects of your life improve.