What, Huh? What did you say?”
“Are you really listening?”
The problem with “kind of” listening is that it can lead to mistakes, misunderstandings, the wrong goals, wasting time and lack of teamwork.
I love the quote in the graphic above from Ernest Hemingway. There are so many reasons for us to pause before we act. This pertains to listening as well. As a coach, I learned the importance of careful and thoughtful listening. Yet, I still have to remind myself about active listening. Some people think they are listening but to build positive relationships that work, they need to listen well.
“Listening is as powerful a means of communication and influence as to talk well.” — John Marshall
They may be listening just enough to jump in to say what they want to say. Some have trouble concentrating on what the other person is saying so they zone out or daydream while the person is talking. There are others who think they are listening but actually are thinking of all the things they want to say or need to do that day. Listening is less important than how you listen. By listening in a way that demonstrates understanding and respect, you build a true foundation for a good relationship no matter if it is between coach and coachee, teacher and students, friends, mother and child, spouses, or team members.
“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” — Ernest Hemingway
Ten tips to listening well:
- Decide you want to listen: Remember the old adage about having two ears and one mouth. Maybe we’re supposed to listen twice as much as we speak. It starts with the decision to listen.
- Come with an open mind: It is very easy to come to a conversation with a preconceived idea about the other person and what they are going to say. Give them a chance to surprise you and you surprise them with an open mind and listening well.
- Hear what they say: Make sure you can really hear the other person. It is surprising how often people do not realize that they cannot even hear other people. Make that you can really hear them first for effective listening. Let them know if you cannot hear what they are saying.