Many people would describe listening and hearing as synonymous. Merriam Webster defines hearing as “the process, function or power of perceiving sound.” They also define listening as “the ability to hear something with thoughtful attention.” Out of these two definitions, there is a winner when it comes to a business setting. Listening is the better choice whether you are face-to-face with one person, having a meeting with a larger group or even having a conference call. Active listening takes some time to prefect but once you learn, it will become second nature. Below are some things to think about the next time you are communicating with anyone.
- Focus – This isn’t the time to multitask and think about what you have to do next, or the rest of the week. Clear your mind and focus on the person that is speaking. Give all of your attention to the person. Remove any distractions if you cannot separate yourself from them.
- Body language – When you are focusing, make sure to give good eye contact and nonverbal motions like nodding your head along with the conversation. If you are relaxed then this can also put the speaker in a relaxed state and open up to better conversation.
- Patience – This is key when it comes to listening to someone. It depends on the topic but some people take a pause to gather their thoughts for their next sentence but most of the time it’s not an invitation for you to speak. You never want to cut someone off because their thought aren’t complete yet.
- Response – Your response should take some time since you weren’t forming it when the other person was speaking. You have been actively listening to them and you need to respond in a way that allows the speaker to also actively listen to you. Try to include personal experience that stays with the tone of the conversation and doesn’t add personal bias.
These points can be adapted to multiple situations and can really improve the communication within an office or business. We are all busy with our own tasks but if we have meaningful conversations then we can cut down on repeating the same thing over and over again. Change starts with you, so if you make changes you might just start a listening revolution within your environment.