Why Even You Can and Should Practice Listening
Most people believe they are listening when others talk. But believing something doesn’t make it real. Leadership coach, Lisa Martin, shares with RDBA her top tips on how to be a better listener; why it’s not only important for your successful career growth as an RD, but success in your personal life as well.
RDs have been trained to listen, as part of the job requires counseling and listening to clients challenges, goals and worries. Even still, you say that we could all become better listeners. Why is that so?
Even if you're a good listener, you can always improve. We all can be more present when we are with others. If you want to improve your listening skills, strive to make a heartfelt connection with others so you can be aware of the hidden interests and talents of the people around you.
What is it about our modern conveniences (and multitasking lifestyle) that keeps us thinking all the time?
Our modern conveniences distract us all the time. We've come to believe that multi-tasking makes us more efficient but it doesn't when it comes to making real connections with others. If you are paying more attention to texts coming in on your phone than to the live conversation you are having with someone, you are sacrificing real moments of human connection that are far more important.
What are some of the benefits of really listening to those around you? (spoken and unspoken)
- Better relationships
- Clearer understanding of others' motivations, needs, unspoken concerns and challenges
- Saves time as you'll hear the right information the first time
- Gain allies and friends because they know you have their best interests at heart
I like to point out that people with strong relationships get farther in life and work, and they’re happier for it. Thriving doesn't come from a completed to-do list. It comes from fully experiencing your life and the people in it. This can’t be done without heartfelt connection.
What are some ways we can do a self-check to see if we are really listening to those around us?
- Watch your body language – do you lean in (listening) or cross your arms (not open)
- Watch your eye contact – a conversation without eye contact is pontification, eye contact provides a level of comfort and intimacy which promotes more sharing
What are some good listening tips (that indicate to others that you are listening)?
- See above plus frame what you hear to confirm that what you heard is what the sender intended,i.e. ‘What I heard you say was…”
- If you really are too busy to listen to someone, negotiate a time to speak to them later, i.e., “I really want to hear what you have to say, but right now I have to finish this report. Could we reschedule our conversation to tomorrow?” Just remember to follow-up and have that conversation or you lose credibility.
Is there a way to do a self-check to see if you are truly listening to others?
Here are a few statements to help you see if you are truly listening to others. How true are these statements for you?
- In conversation, I focus on others and their needs not just my own.
- I quiet my thoughts when others are speaking.
- I resist the urge to plan my response when others are speaking.
- I make sure I've understood what someone has said by confirming it with them (i.e. “So, what I’m hearing you say is…”).
- I consciously listen beneath the surface of what is being said so I can understand unstated concerns.
No matter how strong your current listening skills are, I urge you to take them further. This is a key skill that leads to thriving at work and in life.
Any other tips you can share?
Strive to first understand others. If you go into any listening situation with that in mind, you can't help but become a better listener.
Lisa Martin has made it her mission to help companies keep and cultivate leaders. She’s the creator of the Lead + Live Better programs, author of five books, including the bestselling Briefcase Moms, and she is a seasoned speaker. Lisa has coached thousands of people on the art of thriving and has counseled companies on building leadership cultures. You can find her onTwitter and LinkedIn.
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