Newly Corporate

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Stop Interrupting Me!: 4 Steps to Learn How to Listen

I’m awful at listening. I always want to be center of attention. I am in a constant struggle with myself because I love to tell stories, give examples, help people understand, or at least give my opinion on most everything. But sometimes it is not the right time to talk, but it is time to listen. Maybe you are meeting a new love interest at a bar, a new employer, co-worker, work meeting, work lunch, or pretty much any situation where there is more than one human being. Here is the short list on how I am trying to learn to listen.

listening1) Close your mouth- Don’t even open your mouth. Literally and figuratively. Not only don’t talk, don’t look like you are about to talk. That can be as much as an interruption as talking.

2) Focus – Listening isn’t natural to me so I actually tell myself, LISTEN! I keep reinforcing that in my head, going over my rules of listening. In addition, I try to concentrate on what is being said leading to the next two points…

3) Take Notes – Notes do two great things 1) allow the talker to know you are listening, which is probably appreciated, and 2) Allow you to take in more thoroughly what is being said and increase recall.

4) Ask Questions – I try to think of questions for much of the same reason as above. Mostly questions help progress a conversation and can help with the end goal, whatever that may be. Don’t be to intent on this though, you don’t want to just wait for your turn to speak. Don’t be afraid of a bit of silence after the speaker finishes to collect your thoughts and then speak.

Here are some more tips from Elizabeth Scott at about.com, although she is relating to talk among friends, I think it applies to the workplace as well. she says:

Listen, Listen, Listen. Ask your friend what’s wrong, and really listen to the answer. Let them vent their fears, frustrations and other important feelings, maintaining eye contact and showing that you’re interested in what they have to say. Resist the urge to give advice, and just let them get it out.

At effectivemeetings.com they give a nice basis on determining whether or not you are a good listener:

If you’re unsure whether you’re a good listener or not, simply take the following test. In your next meeting or conversation, make a mental note or, even better, jot down on a piece of paper the number of times you interrupt. The fewer marks there are on your paper, the better listener you are!

One last resource that gives some good perspective on listening eatoolbox.com:

Listening skills are like good looks – everybody thinks they have them but we can’t all be right. So even if you think you’re a good listener, you can probably learn something

Love the last qoute! Do you have some stories concerning a bad listener? Maybe you totally missed the point of something once? Feel free to share your stories or advice on improving our listeining.

Update: Checkout these three communication tips for more on listening and receiving feedback.

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6 Comments

  1. I definitely hear you on this one (pun intended)! What’s also important though is learning how to recover gracefully when you don’t listen. For instance, when you miss something, it may be better to say:
    “Could you clarify that?”
    or something to that effect rather than just:
    “Huh?” or a blank stare.

    Great picture by the way.

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