3 Ways to Not Suck at Listening to Other People

Do your friends, coworkers, boss roll their eyes when you talk?

Do people tell you that you’re too “bossy” and always telling people what to do?

Do you cut people off in the middle of a conversation?

Do you think about what to say next in defense?

Do you have the habit of checking your phone for emails or text messages when someone is talking to you?

If you do more than three of the things above then… you definitely suck at listening. So what should you do? Here are three pointers:

1. (Really) Listen

You’re thinking “I listen to people all the time!” Hearing words isn’t listening. You need to be willing to listen. Henry Ford once said, “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own. “

What do I mean by REALLY listening?

- Remembering what others say

- Summarize points of agreement and disagreement

- Understand the key messages from the conversation

- Repeat the points above in your own words back at them to show that you understand their perspective

Don’t forget to pick up verbal and nonverbal cues! Are they smiling or expressionless, crossing their hands, or showing very open hand gestures?

2. Empathize

Stop trying to be clever all the time and start making friends. It’s time to say adios to your ego. Good listeners know how assess how the other person is feeling. Try using these phrases during the next conversation and be amazed with the answers.

- Thank you for coming to me about this situation. How you feel about it?

- Your input is important to understand where everyone is coming from this situation

- Your effort is never taken for granted

- You seem excited/happy/upset about this situation. What’s your opinion?

- I completely understand what you’re saying. Tell me more about what you think.

3. Engage

Giving feedback at the end isn’t enough. If you’re quiet through the entire conversation, they might as well be talking to a vegetable. Effective replies through verbal acknowledgements, questions and paraphrasing show the other person that you are listening.

- Eye contact

- Nodding

- NOT crossing your arms

- Using verbal phrases such as “Interesting”, “That’s a great point”, “Hmmm”

Next time you try to cut someone off the middle of the sentence, slow down. Listen more and ask the right questions. The key to being a great listener is the ability to connect with the other person. The points above will help towards achieving that goal.