Becoming a better listener

Original by NoahAdmin, 2020 

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To do

  • Listen to understand not to answer
  • Listening is a skill and we can improve it
  • Listening is part of communicating
  • Turn everything off
  • Take notes, write down things learned
  • Summarize in your own words
  • Comment on your emotions
  • Put a checkbox next to the things you do not agree upon and follow up with a tick mark
  • Explain what you learned to other people or pretend you will have to
  • Write down your objective, what do you hope to resolve
  • Go as if you are going to represent someone else and report to them
  • Resist the need to interrupt, ask later so you can better listen
  • Interrupting is a big sign of I don’t care, let me talk
  • Make sure your talking points are not tangential
  • Be ready to not get all your points across depending on conversation
  • It is not about winning
  • He who talks first, loses“, be the last to speak
  • Follow up
    • show interest
    • build more trust
    • shows commitment on the project
    • report back
    • close the loop
  • Listen to what is not said
  • Get familiar with terms used
  • Do not focus on getting your own words in
  • Do not check your phone, remove distractions, be present
  • Do no hurry to the next person
  • Approach the conversation without preconceived prejudice
  • Care about the person
  • Find areas of agreement
  • Respect confidentiality

Effective listening person is perceived as someone who

  • gets it
  • adds value to the problem/solution
  • cares about what is going on
  • validates person’s position
  • is an integral part of the team
  • is someone who will be put in front of customers

Check list on being present

  • are you prepared?
  • do you believe in what you are saying?
  • does your body language and tone give a different message?
  • can they feel your trust?
  • do you seem defensive?
  • are you listening to others?

Help others listen to you

  • Listen more than you talk
  • Remove distractions
  • Trick: tell them what you are going to tell them
  • Be assertive, politely, “I do not comfortable doing that”, if a person comes back at you just repeat with the same words
  • Respect your audience. Do not talk down but talk with them
  • Remove jargon
  • Remove cliché (overused terms like team player etc..)
  • Remove offensive stuff (unless you want to offend)
  • Be very careful with jokes and sarcasm
  • Consider reducing your points, know what your main points are
  • Propose to help with the follow up
  • Position your guess so they face the wall (no distractions, for example at restaurant)

Body language

  • pay attention to mannerism
  • hands (excitement level)
  • where are they looking? (looking to the side is perceived as someone who is looking fr ideas)
  • how are their arms (but not in isolation)
  • are they moving around(nervous)
  • what doe YOUR body language says

Eye contact

  • be purposeful with eye contact
  • do not follow distractions (only look at face or eyes)

Tone of conversation

  • stressed? emotional? bored? urgency?

Responding during conversation

  • combine with eye contact and body language
  • sum up conversation “do you mean to say”, “if I understand you correctly”, “is there anything I missed”

Taking notes

  • Don’t let note taking become a distraction
  • Stay engaged (or appear to be)
  • announce if you are taking notes with your technology (phone, laptop etc..)

Phone call

  • Write down names
  • Use names (shows you care)
  • Ask for clarification during call: “Let me make sure I understood correctly
  • Before the end of the call summarise out loud the main points
  • Clarify expectations
  • Follow up quickly by email with summarising and expectations

When you are accountable

  • List due dates and define scopes of projects
  • Make sure you write down and clarify every expectations of you
  • Understand you main contacts
  • Debrief with team or boss to understand questions that still need answers