5 Steps to Becoming a Better Listener


5 Steps to Listening:

  1. Be in the moment

  2. Use empathy

  3. Stop your inner dialog

  4. Ask questions before giving suggestions

  5. Aim to repeat points

Here is a breakdown of those meanings.

Be in the moment: When you are in the moment you use all your mental fortitude to be present. This is not easy. Think of all the times you have zoned out listening to someone else. This includes when you are listening to someone and at the same time thinking about what you are going to say next. This seemingly innocent thing that we consistently do is not out of malice, but it can be detrimental in our ability to listen. 

Use empathy: Empathy is the art of putting yourself in others feelings, emotions and mindset. Just like being in the moment, this is something that takes mental energy. When you are practicing empathy you will find yourself thinking and feeling like the other person. You will hurt when they hurt and feel frustrated for them when they feel frustrated. Those who are experts at this can re-phrase a persons feelings when the moment is right. This skill we will touch on more in aiming to repeat points. 

Stop your inner dialog: This was mentioned in being in the moment, but it is worth diving deeper. We all have an inner dialog, but we do not have to be a slave to it. Through practice and determination the use of inner dialog can be turned on and off. The most powerful tool you can use to keep inner dialog at bay is recognition. The moment you recognize that you are no longer listening to the other person recognize your mistake and reengage. 

Ask questions before giving suggestions: The power of questions knows no bounds. A colleague once put it in the simple phrase "come at it curious". The most influential leaders in the world know when to ask a question. Those who have truly mastered the art can lead a person to the outcome of a forfeited suggestion by simply asking the right question. Moreover, when someone comes to conclusions themselves through answering questions the power of their responses will hold much tighter than the outcomes of a suggestion.

Aim to repeat points: This stated in the simplest of ways is to repeat back what you heard from the other person. This achieves two goals. Firstly, it shows the other person that you were truly listening and not merely hearing what they were talking about. Secondly, this helps you as the leader to add points of clarification to points that the speaker might have been loose on. 

You might find that you need coaching to expand your listening skills. Click below to see if a coaching relationship might be a good fit for you.