The ability to listen is essential if you want to progress in almost any career. Working on your listening skills can improve your relationships with colleagues, clients and customers, helping you to get the outcomes you want from your interactions with these people.
The first way to improve your listening skills is to remove distractions that prevent you from listening to what other persons have to say. When someone speaks to you, put down your phone, turn away from the computer screen, put the document you were reading aside and give the person your undivided attention. Not only will this help you to take in more of what the person is saying, but it also shows respect. This tip might seem obvious, but it is very easy to get distracted by objects or electronic devices while you are supposed to be listening.
In order to become a better communicator, you need to learn to be quiet while the other person is talking. One of the best ways to improve your listening skills is to imagine pushing your own "mute button" as soon as the other person starts speaking. Imagine that this button prevents you from interrupting until the other person has finished speaking. By staying quiet, you give the other person a chance to tell you what you need to know.
When the other person pauses, count to three before you start speaking. Often, people will continue speaking if you give them just a couple of seconds to think. If the person you are speaking to requires prompting, try saying "Oh?" to urge them to continue. Make sure you make this interjection sound like a question by making your voice go up in pitch at the end of the word.
Other questions that can urge people to continue talking are "What do you mean by that?" and "Can you tell me more?" People with strong listening skills use these questions to extract the information they need from their clients and colleagues. This information might help you close a sale, successfully complete a task for your boss or build a better relationship with a client.
Another way to improve your listening skills is to practice using empathy. Maintain eye contact and nod your head occasionally to show that you are listening and engaged with the other person. You can also use statements such as "I imagine how that must make you feel" and "I understand that must be difficult" to let the people you are speaking to know that you understand and care about the problems they are facing.
Improving your listening skills is an essential part of becoming a better communicator. By staying quiet, prompting the other person for a response and using empathy, you can improve your listening skills.
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