The best salespeople are great listeners—that’s how they find out what the buyer wants. The same is true for leaders—the best leaders are great listeners. A good leader listens attentively to employees to find out what they need so they can perform and deliver effectively. More than that, listening to people shows a sign of respect. It makes them feel valued.
But research shows that we only remember about 20% of what we hear. Listening looks easy, but it’s not simple. It requires concentration and energy. We often become unfocused, concerned with our own next response, or we interrupt.
1 – Don’t lose your focus
Listening leads to fewer errors and less wasted time. But ironically we often don’t listen because we’re busy, and our minds drift off to think about other things we need to do. But don’t allow yourself to become distracted by whatever else may be going on around you or whatever else you think you should be doing. Don’t allow yourself to get bored and lose focus on what the other person is saying. Again, listening looks easy, but it’s not simple
2 – Don’t focus on your next response
You’ve probably done it; instead of listening to what the speaker is saying, you’re forming counter responses or arguments that you’ll make when the other person stops speaking. But think about it—you may have your next great response ready, but how great can it be when it’s a response to something you didn’t really listen to?
3- Don’t interrupt
We often mean well by interrupting or finishing sentences to speed up the other person’s pace. You may think you are helping the narrative along, but you’re actually saying, “I’m more important than you,” “what I have to say is better,” or “I don’t have time for your opinion.”
How do you then become a great listener?
We cannot truly listen to someone and do something else at the same time. Remind yourself frequently that your goal is to truly hear what the person is saying. Set aside all other thoughts and behaviors, and concentrate on the message. Ask questions, reflect, and paraphrase to ensure you understand the message.
If you’re finding it particularly difficult to concentrate on what someone is saying, try repeating the words mentally as you hear them. This will reinforce the speaker’s message and help you stay focused.
It takes a lot of concentration and determination to be an active listener. Old habits are hard to break, and let’s face it, a lot of managers are impatient and well-meaningly end up listening more to their own voices than those of their employees. If you want to support your employees’ development and performance, start breaking the habit today!
You can start already now by downloading our free Feedback and Attentive listening kit.