Often we think the key to effective presentation or communications is your ability to speak, but I would say, the TRUE key is your ability to listen! Turning off your inner voice, or at the very least significantly turning down the volume, and listening intently (with the intention to understand the other) will allow for much clearer and effective communication.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply” – Steven Covey
From simple everyday conversations with friends, loved ones and co-workers to complex business communications, taking the time to truly listen to others (both verbal and non-verbal) is an incredible sign respect and will build trust.
Three tips to be an active listener:
1. Focus your attention on the speaker with the knowledge that 93% of communication is non-verbal (55% body language, 38% tone of voice) By focusing intention to understand, you will hear both the verbal and pick up on the non-verbal cues.
2. Show them that you are listening, look them in the eyes, nod your head, lean into them, and show expression that you are deep into what they are saying. Use brief affirmations like “I see”, “interesting”, “tell me more”, “sure”. I see maybe people today are distracted staring at their phones (or having them buzz/ring in their pockets) or computers while claiming to listen to a conversation. Put that stuff OUT OF SIGHT and truly listen to the speaker. If not, you will miss 99% of what is being said! This will cause disasters in both business and personal life.
3. Reflect and summarize to the speaker what they have just said so you can clarify you have heard them properly “If I am hearing you clearly” and ask questions. If the speaker is going through many points, ask them to pause occasionally and clarify understanding. If they are on a roll, or interrupting does not make sense, make a brief note to ask for clarification when there is an opportunity. This will help both you the listener receive the clear and accurate message, and the speaker will feel 100% heard and respected.
We have two ears and one mouth for a reason, we are meant to be listening far more than we are speaking. Being a GREAT active listener will be one of your top 3 keys to success in business and in life! People have so many gifts to give us in their knowledge and experience, by giving them our full attention we can receive those gifts and at the same time build both trust and respect.