I remember back in 2012 when I joined Toastmasters. I thought to myself; I’m going to learn to be the best speaker… EVER! I got up and spoke whenever I had the chance. I gave speeches. I participated. My goal initially was to “um” and “ah” less, get my speech manual completed and rise to the occasion during Table Topics. The hardest task? Being an evaluator! Why? Because it forced me to listen. Listening is not defined as being quiet and letting the other person speak. It’s all about active listening and learning. The best lesson Toastmasters ever taught me is also now one of my favourite quotes by Stephen R. Covey: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”.
How can you become a better listener? Here are 5 quick and easy tips to implement in your everyday life:
- When you’re having a conversation, put your phone away. There’s nothing that says “I don’t care” like thumbing through social media while someone is talking to you.
- Tell yourself that you’ll need the information being provided at a later time and test yourself. Listening isn’t always innate, it often takes practice and this is a great way to better your listening skills!
- While you may think that summarizing the other person’s thoughts is silly, it actually proves you were engaged and leaves them with a sense of being heard. That’s always a good thing! Once the other party is done talking, try to wrap it up by saying: “so what you’re saying is…”.
- Be in the moment. If Sally’s telling you about her new job, don’t think about what you need to pick up at the grocery store on the way home. Give Sally the respect she deserves and listen to what she’s saying.
- Pay attention to the other person’s body language. It can tell you loads about what they’re feeling and matching feelings to words is twice as effective!
I’ll leave you with 2 thoughts.
The first; you never learn anything new when you’re speaking. The only time there’s potential for learning and growth is when you’re listening.
The second; becoming a better listener and asking someone questions is key to fostering and strengthening relationships. You have more to gain by leaning in and taking in the information and that goes for every facet of your life from key relationships to your career.
If you have tips on becoming a better listener, be sure to leave them in the comments… I’m all ears!!