Hey Communicators—Listen Up!
So many times when we think of people who are powerful communicators, we think of the “sage on the stage”—people standing center stage who have the audience in the palm of their hands. While the power to command an audience is certainly an aspect of being a good communicator, one of the most important things we can do to be powerful and empathetic communicators is to shut up and listen!
Have you ever had someone come by your office only to repeat something they already told you over and over again? That’s because they don’t feel like you are hearing them! Have you ever had someone repeat the same thing, only louder and louder? That’s because they don’t feel like they are being heard!
Just listen. Whether in your personal life or professional realm, when people feel like you really “get” them, you will be the most impactive communicator on the planet!
Being a good communicator starts with listening. Here are five steps toward becoming a better listener:
1. Paraphrase back what you heard. This is so much more than parroting what a person just said. It’s the ability to give back the meaning and feeling of what the person said. You can say things like: “Let me make sure I’m understanding this right and stop me if I get it wrong.” Or, “What I just heard you say is….” And then give the person back what you “got” from what was said.
2. Be empathetic and open-minded. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
3. DO NOT multitask! First of all, there is no such thing as multitasking. It’s true! Our brains cannot hold two conscious thoughts at one time. Now, what we can do is “task switch,” which means going back and forth from one thing to the other. However, how many times have you ever been doing that only to stop in short order and say, “Shoot where was I?” Let the person know they are important by devoting all of your attention to them. Now, if someone comes into your office to “unload” and you don’t have time for it at that moment, you can say, “I am not going to disrespect you by pretending that I can finish this report and listen to you at the same time. My deadline for this report is in 30 minutes. Then I’ll have about 20 minutes and I can give you my full attention. Will that work?”
4. If your mind wanders, admit it! Do not pretend you got it all if you didn’t! You might have missed something important. Simply say, “I missed that last thing you said, will you please repeat it?”
5. Show you’re listening. Make eye contact regularly during the conversion and nod to acknowledge that you understand.
The person most people like to listen to most … is … themselves. Shhhhh—just listen.
Anything to add about the power of just listening? We’re all ears! Share your comments below and visit our U the Communicator class page to find out more about elevating your communication and listening skills.