Become A Better Listener With Active Listening
Everyone has experienced times when they were not fully listening to what others around them were stating or gained the feeling that others weren’t fully taking in the information they were attempting to provide at some point. Practicing better listening skills is helpful for anyone from parents to CEOs of organizations. Understanding the information that individuals are relaying out to others by using active listening skills can assist anyone in connecting better with others and providing information in a way that anyone can fully understand.
In short, being a better listener requires an individual to be supportive and to keep an open mind to what the speaker is talking about. Remaining closed off can put the conversation into a bad light before it even begins. When one speaks, they are looking for the audience to take in what is being said and provide supportive feedback to assist in the conversation. This is true for any type of scenario, regardless of where you are or who you’re speaking to. For example, Jason Rowley, former CEO of Phoenix Suns, would use active listening the same for situations such as communications with his petty officers in the Navy, meetings with his Navy commander or even something as simple as speaking to a reporter. If Rowley was the speaker in these situations, he would expect for the non-speaker to pay attention to the words being spoken and vice versa. The person speaking is trying to relay information to the non-speaker for a specific reason and if the non-speaker is unable to practice active listening the message may get lost.
Becoming a better listener by using active listening can seem like a difficult task when one doesn’t fully understand the meaning. Active listening is a skill that requires attentiveness during a conversation. Active listening can be done by using a few simple steps. Demonstrating a concern or empathy for the individual speaking. This allows people to show that they care about the thoughts and feelings of the speaker, and that they are engaged in the conversation at hand. Maintaining full attention and avoiding outside distractions is another step. Keep eye contact with the speaker and avoid other individuals or distractions in the surrounding area. Provide the speaker with non-variable cues to show engagement, such as nodding and leaning forward a bit. Direct the focus on understanding what the speaker is trying to convey rather than bits and pieces of the words being stated. This way, the response from the non-speaker can be geared toward the speaker’s perspective of the situation. Avoid passing judgment on the speaker based on their thoughts they provide in the conversation. Be sure to ask open-ended questions to encourage the speaker to share more of their thoughts. If one continues to ask yes or no questions, this can stalemate the conversation entirely.
Jason Rowley believes that once an individual mastered the art of active listening, they then can put that learned behavior to use and walk into any conversation with confidence.