How can you better your listening skills?

“When we truly listen to someone, we treat them as a Queen or King.  Servants never interrupt the Queen, but wrap their ears around her, attending every word & facial expression with “ten eyes and one heart”. – Chinese Proverb

Listening is a gift given to those who seek it. Anyone can be a great listener, that is the beauty of listening. With the age of technology, it is quickly becoming a lost art. You have social media with their ten second videos, news media coverages with their breaking news updates engulfed in minimalist sound bytes, and maybe the biggest culprit of all, the mobile phone, which is furnished to steal whatever attention span you have left. With everything geared for the “right now” or “instant gratification” how can you better your listening skills?

Here at 45 Inc. Birmingham, we value the art of active listening in our leaders.  How can we improve our team and grow our business if we’re not listening to the feedback of our customers, clients, and team members.  The 45 Inc. approach when it comes to clients, customers and team members is face to face communication.  It can be easy to hide or be distracted when sending emails, text messages, or phone calls.  When you’re face to face you have to listen carefully.  To be thoughtful, to craft a response, to answer a question.

I was told by one of my mentors, “If listening starts to feel tedious and archaic, then you are doing something right!” I think he knew how hypnotizing the internet could be, and also how millennials were a brainwashed bunch that needed to break the cycle of instant information; better yet, he knew the best flow of information came from truly dedicating your full attention to what was being said. Of course he was a much older gentlemen, a man of another time and place, but his infinite wisdom didn’t fall from the sky, it came from listening.  

Mentors work wonders when you are trying to improve your listening skills. They are whom you feel comfortable enough with to ask for feedback. You can even turn your developing skills into a makeshift project by asking them to watch you in meetings, or one on one conversations and relay what they’ve observed. This form of accountability creates new habits that strengthen your listening skills.

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One thing we encourage our team members to do here at 45 Inc. is to repeat what another person has said.  We tend to use our own biases and experiences to craft a story and may misinterpret what one person has said for something else.  By repeating the information back, a person can see if they truly understood what the person was saying.  Have you ever had a time where you misunderstood what a person told you?  We all have!

Although we only acknowledged a few, there are many more tools and exercises to help improve listening.  Being a good listener is refreshing to colleagues and admired by most great leaders. It is a trait that should be harnessed and developed throughout life. Try to immerse yourself in listening and be surprised by how much you learn.

What are some of your tips for listening?  COMMENT BELOW!

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