I gotta be honest with you, effective listening was not a strength of mine. Years ago if you walked into my office I would continue to work and talk at the same time. There were even times when I would respond with my back to the person that was speaking to me.

I constantly received poor results regarding my listening skills on my 360 reviews and I could not understand why. Finally, I asked my team members and peers to provide me with examples when I was demonstrating poor listening behavior.

They identified several bad listening habits:

  1. I did not look at the person while they were talking.

  2. I would nod up and down quickly to rush them along as they spoke.

  3. I would interrupt them speaking with a reactionary response.

  4. I rarely if ever followed up if they had questions.

So what’s my point? 

It was not until the feedback was given to me that I began to read books on how to listen more effectively. Looking back I must admit, it was very rude and disrespectful to the people that were attempting to communicate with me.

Honestly the feedback was the best thing that could have every happened to me. I took what was once identified as a weakness and turned it into a strength. What that experience taught me was that listening skills can be learned and are developed over time. It does take practice and persistence. 

Here’s the Turn Around

To shorten your learning curve, here are six simple skills that you can utilize to listen effectively.

  1. When someone is speaking to you, stop what you are doing.

  2. Look at the person while they are talking.

  3. Eliminate the need to interrupt.

  4. Respond only during the pauses in the conversation.

  5. Ask clarifying questions.

  6. And follow-up if necessary.

It’s important to note that when someone takes the time to tell you anything it is your responsibility to leverage effective listening skills.

My final thoughts…

When you really listen to what others have to say, you become more knowledgeable and more effective. The truth is, you CAN only hear when…you listen.

The Listener Whisperer

Dr. Donna

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