I recently wrote a blog post on active listening, and you can access it here. Here are a further 10 guidance notes to help you be a better listener.
1. Avoid “Me too” comments
If you are paying attention to the other person and wanting to help them, avoid discussing how it affects you. Think! Will this help the other person? If not, leave it to another time. You risk hijacking the conversation.
2. Don’t get defensive
If you are being given some feedback, listen to what the person is saying. Don’t interrupt with reasons until you are very clear what the person is saying. They may have some helpful comments to make that you will miss if you interrupt their flow.
3. Don’t formulate a response until the other person has finished speaking.
You will miss out on some of the things they say.
4. If there is a silence, don’t rush to fill it
Wait twice as long as feels comfortable for you. Give the other person time to think.
5. Put yourself in their shoes
Don’t criticise or give advice, don’t rush to fix it. See the issue from their perspective.
6. Be aware of your prejudices
Are there certain words (vulgar language) or people (background) that “get under your skin”? Think about what you can do to be less judgemental. Perhaps you could say that for the next 20 minutes you will concentrate on them and let e.g. their views on immigrants wash over you.
7. If you are listening to someone via a telephone you need to try even harder to demonstrate active listening skills
Make sure you are not typing, turning pages of a magazine, shuffling papers etc. All these things demonstrate that you are only half listening.
8. Eliminate external distraction
If you are in a location, which is hot, cold, noisy or uncomfortable, look to move to a different place. You can’t concentrate if you are in a situation, which demands a lot of your attention.
9. Seek feedback on your own performance
You can improve your skills in this area through getting feedback from other people. Ask people to tell you if they felt heard. Seek out ways you can improve. It will not only be helpful with that person next time, but also when you are actively listening to other people.
10. Pay attention to other peoples listening skills
Notice in what ways other people make you feel listened to, and those people who don’t. It will help you to choose how you can develop further.
Denise Taylor is a double award winning career coach and Chartered Psychologist with Amazing People, established in 1998. When you are unsure of your career future, need help with job search or seek to improve your presence in an online world, Denise can help. Denise is the author of 7 books including How To Get A Job In A Recession, Now You’ve Been Shortlisted and Fat to Fantastic.