9 Ways to Be A More Effective Active Listener

Are you an active listener?

Active listeners
Imagine the scene. Someone organizes a meeting. An agenda is provided. You have senior leaders of the company in the room. The topic is of high importance and comes during a particularly hectic and stressful week.

Is anybody really listening to the conversation? 

Check these signs to see if you are guilty of any of these indicators that you aren’t present?

Is your iPhone in your hand and used during the meeting?

Do you speak before you even get a chance to think, process the comments and make certain that you are adding something necessary to the conversation?

Are you focused on your to do list or the next meeting instead of where you are? 

Although you are physically present, is your attention and mind with you? 

9 Tips: 

Here are a few tips to improve your listening skills. Some are obvious and others may surprise you.

1.  LAST SPEAKER: Be the last person to comment on the topic at hand. Wait until everyone else speaks.

2.  15 SECOND RULE: Wait at least 15 seconds when you are called on to speak- to gather your thoughts and make sure you know what you want to say.

3. DON'T TOUCH: Do not pick up your phone. Leave it in front of you on silent or vibrate so you can see if an emergency call comes in but don’t allow yourself to touch it during the sessions. Only check your email once per hour. (I know its hard but you'll survive)

4. BREATH: Take deep breathes at least once every 15 minutes during the meeting to make you conscious of your breathing and mindful of being in the room.

5. PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS: Notice a detail about each speaker so you are concentrating on them. It can be the color of a shirt or the pen they are holding. By focusing on a detail you are also putting your attention toward what they are saying.

6. SUMMARIZE WHAT YOU HEAR: Take notes that summarizes strongly held points of view- not minor comments. Jim really believes we should switch distributors because of a conflict. Mary urged the team not to move to quickly on this decision without talking in person the distributor. Anne seemed ambivalent about the decision either way since she thinks the bigger problem relates to our product’s price.

7. ALIGN AND REPEAT: When you do speak, an active listener will say things like, "this is what I have heard so far....Jim believes this, Mary believes that and Anne appears ambivalent. This restating helps you align what you heard with the speaker's intention. 

8. ASK A QUESTION: When you are actively listening, you are able to understand subtle aspects of an argument. You hear in an inflection some willingness to compromise, to shift positions or to consider more information. Active listeners succeed because they see new paths forwards. Consider a question instead of a statement when it is your turn to talk. 

If you are struggling with paying attention during a meeting, perhaps you shouldn’t attend. Sometimes it is important to get clarity about where you need to spend your time. Perhaps your distraction is well-placed and your attention needs to be on another more important issue. Just say no. 

Don't Go to Meetings When You Can't Pay Attention
This Moment
Listening is about being present in the moment. Your past is gone. The future hasn’t arrived. All you have is the moment. By listening and being self-conscious of what is going on right now you and your colleagues will benefit with better actions.

Can you hear me now?

40 years ago
 About Me:

I am a marketing professional with over 30 years of experience creating success. If you enjoy these blog posts, please sign up to receive them in your email or share them with other marketing friends who might be interested in these topics. Sign up with your email at the upper right hand corner of my blog

You can comment on this blog, send an email to me at JeffreyLynnSlater@gmail.com or as the Car Talk guys on NPR  like to say, write your question on the back of a $20 bill and mail it to me. Thanks for traveling along with me on this journey. 

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