2018-10-01 Issue 70 Fundamental Behavior 15 Listen To Understand
I recently read an article which pointed out that hearing is a physical ability, while listening is a skill. But we all speak to each other and listen to each other every day. So we already have listening skills, right? Do we really need to improve them?
The answer is Yes! Listening skills are important communication tools. They enable us to better understand what our colleague or manager is saying, and can help avoid misunderstandings and strengthen relationships. So improving listening skills is important for each of us.
How do we develop and improve our listening skills? Here are some suggestions:
1. Eliminate distractions – Put away your cell phone and turn away from your computer. You will not be able to listen attentively if you are scanning your phone or computer for emails and other messages.
2. Ask questions – Asking questions shows that you are interested in what the other person is saying, and that you are actively listening to understand what they are saying. Try asking open-ended questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer. Such open-ended questions often lead to deeper discussion and can also enhance your own understanding of the situation.
3. Show interest and empathy – smile or show concern appropriately.
4. Don’t interrupt – We are all busy and it can be tempting to try to speed up the conversation. But in order to be a good listener, you need to slow down and allow the speaker to finish speaking before you respond.
5. Think before responding – Instead of trying to formulate your response while the other person is speaking, try instead to listen carefully to what they are saying. After they have finished speaking, take a moment to consider what they have said and how you would like to reply before responding.
Like any other skill, becoming a good listener takes practice. Let’s all take some time this week to practice our listening skills!
Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel
YKK Corporation of America