1. Pay Attention
Give the speaker your undivided attention, and acknowledge the message. Recognize that non-verbal communication also “speaks” loudly. Texting indicates otherwise.
- Look at the speaker directly.
- Put aside distracting thoughts. (Breathe)
- Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal!
- Avoid being distracted by environmental factors. For example, side conversations.
- “Listen” to the speaker’s body language.
2. Show That You’re Listening – Be attentive
Body language and gestures convey your attention, make them feel comfortable.
- *Nod occasionally.
- Note your posture and make sure it is open and inviting.
- Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and uh huh.
- Leave your cell phone at your desk or in your bag.
Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. This may require you to reflect what is being said and ask questions. Breathe through it even if you don’t agree, wait until the person finishes what they are saying. (See #4 and #5)
- Reflect what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is,” and “Sounds like you are saying,” are great ways to reflect back.
- Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean when you say.” “Is this what you mean?”
- Summarize the speaker’s comments periodically.
- This is a self check to ensure you’ve understood the information as well.
4. Ditch the Judgment
Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message. By not interrupting, you’ll be able to gain more information.
- Allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions.
- Don’t interrupt with counter arguments, this is distracting for everyone in the room and disrespectful to the presenter.
- Don’t jump to conclusions.
5. Respond Respectfully
- Assert your opinions respectfully.
- Be open, and honest in your response.
- Treat the other person in a way that you think he or she would want to be treated.