James Nathan Miller made an interesting observation some 50 years ago:
“Conversation in the U.S. is a competitive exercise in which the first person to draw a breath is declared the listener” (The Art of Intelligent Listening, Readers Digest, September 1965)
Don’t let Miller’s observation describe your conversations. Master the art of active listening.
We all have stakeholders—both internal and external. And what each person or persons needs, changes. Depending upon due dates, unforeseen events, new priorities, and the like, the needs can change quickly or slowly.
Whatever your situation, you really have to listen to “them” to really know what is important to them.
Benefits of Active Listening
- Improves bonding and rapport building
- Reduces communication misunderstandings
- Reduces interpersonal conflicts
- Increases quality of work-related activities
Active Listening Suggestions
- Use Non-verbal Body Language: Nod your head, smile, and lean forward are good ways to demonstrate your attentiveness. On the telephone, say words like Right, Sure, Understand, and Yes to demonstrate your attentiveness
- Paraphrase: Summarize and repeat back to the person initiating the conversation the key points. This ensures common understanding. Use this suggestion for the more important discussion points
- Communicate: Based on your mutual goals with your stakeholders, communicate in person (e.g., coffee, lunch, drinks, dinner, and meetings). Communicate in other ways such as by telephone, email, text message, and postal mail
- Wait Your Turn: Resist the temptation to interrupt and interject. Let your communication partner finish sharing her/his thoughts.
- The Art of Listening – 5 Ways Active Listening Improves Your Sales Success
Photography Source: PhotoDisc OS Volume 027