It’s says a lot about modern living that the number one skill we’ll need is something “soft”, not technological and I think it’s a good thing. So how can we improve this essential life skill?
1. Listen with your eyes – Eye contact can help you pay attention and has the added benefit of making the speaker feel special. This is especially important in coaching, mentoring or leadership.
2. Summarize – when the person is finished, repeat back what you heard. When you know you are going to do that, you will pay more attention and stop thinking about what you are going to say next.
3. Pay attention to you own body language - Are your shoulders square to the person speaking? Are your arms uncrossed? Are you leaning forward slightly? These are all signs that you are listening.
I like to practice these skills on the people who mean the most to me; my children, my family, my friends, my co-workers. I also make a conscious effort to practice this everyday with the people that I meet. You’ll have to ask them, but I hope they’ll tell you that after we’re done talking; they feel good because they know I’ve heard them. This is probably one of the most important things I do everyday. I am interested in stories about how better listening is changing your life.
If you’re looking for a little more information, try this article called, “Now Pay Attention.”