In my two-part series on improving your listening skills, we are now at the point where I want to see you put these teachings into practice. For a job seeker, employee, or manager to remain aware and make difficult decisions with confidence, they must carefully listen to what is going on around them. Without strong listening skills, it becomes extremely difficult to gather information. Odds are that you will find yourself spending more time running circles around an issue than it is actually worth.
Below are the key points that I challenge all of you to remember and put into practice!
- When you are interacting with others, use a ratio of 80% listening to 20% speaking. Encourage discussion and extract information by asking targeted questions. Questioning will help clarify underdeveloped ideas or shed light onto ones that have not been explored.
- Enter into dialogue with your conversation partner with all assumptions and pre-conceived notions out in the open. This mutual understanding will encourage the exchange of ideas, as a level of respect will have been reached. It opens the door to more challenging questions and promotes the development of critically thought-out solutions.
- Focus your conversations on what information you need to know, not what you think might be useful. The excess time used during your interactions may be taking away from an already-shortened timeline. Train yourself to minimize external distractions and refrain from digressing away from the task at hand.
- Understand that ambiguity and uncertainty is an important tool. Not knowing what may occur in the future will help prepare you for unexpected curve balls thrown your way.
- Process and put important information into mental file folders. Organized information can be more easily accessed and utilized in decision-making.
- Identify relevant information from a conversation and work hard to
- Listen and lead by example. Good listeners are considerate and knowledgeable of the decisions they are making. Be open to questioning and encourage others to challenge ideas.
To become a highly effective listener, you must test yourself and begin putting these processes to work for you. Through daily practices and focusing on one section of improving your listening skills, you will begin to view active listening as second nature.
Listen to the author that inspired this series, Bernard Ferrari:
Readers: Which above the above will you try out first? What point do you think will be the hardest for you to make part of your routine?