“He’s not really interested in what I have to say.”
“She’s already made up her mind. Why does she bother to ask what we think?”
If these thoughts have crossed your mind during a discussion at work, you’ve been talking to someone who doesn’t listen, or who doesn’t know how to show that she’s listening.
The truth is, it can be downright difficult to really listen well when we’re dealing with people’s feelings, trying to understand what others think, or accepting constructive criticism.
But when you do it well, others notice. Make sure your are strong by sticking to these tips:
Move away from distractions so that you can pay full attention to the other person.
Examples: Turn away from a monitor, silence a cell phone, step into a conference room.
Focus on what is being said, not what you want to say. Tip: Imagine that you have to repeat the last sentence the other person says. That keeps your attention focused on the moment.
Count to 5 or 10 before replying. It gives the other person a chance to continue after a pause, or you a chance to collect your thoughts. A little lull is OK.
Ask open-ended, clarifying questions. Encourage the other person to offer ideas and solutions before you give yours.
Restate key points you heard and ask whether they are accurate. Say, “Let me see whether I heard you correctly ….”
Seek clarification, if you’ve missed a key point. Say, “I’ve missed a connection somewhere; can you go back to ….”
Notice the unspoken. Pay attention to the tone of voice, body language, emotion and what isn’t being said.