What are Your Listening Intentions?
Have you ever been with another person who hears your stories but isn’t listening? They see your mouth move but are mentally planning their next discourse as soon as you stop to take a breath. You know the type – it’s all about them and they can’t wait to tell you a story about them that’s similar to your story. You are providing an opportunity for them to talk about their favorite subject – themselves!
How does this make you feel?
Does it build a solid and lasting relationship?
Do you want to continue doing business with this person?
If you want to become a better listener and establish deeper and longer-lasting relationships follow these 3 simple steps. The necessary changes may not happen overnight – it depends how tightly you hold onto your old ways.
To improve your listening skills shift your intention from listening for an opportunity to talk more about yourself to listening with intention to better understand them. I guarantee this will totally change the dynamics of a conversation.
1 – Be There for Them – while this sounds simple and basic, it’s easy to get caught up in your story and shifting whatever is said to be about you. The goal of listening is to learn more about the other person and develop a stronger bond. You do this by actively listening – ask questions to clarify what’s been said so you better understand. Ask side questions that show you’re interested and paying attention. “How did this make you feel?” “What are you going to do now?” “Is there anything I can do to assist you?” These questions demonstrate your undivided attention and willingness to help.
2 – No Distractions – demonstrate your commitment to them by choosing a time to meet when you can give them your undivided attention. Make a point at the start of the meeting to take your phone out of your pocket/purse, and silence it or turn it off and set it face down on the table. This is a strong message that you are fully present and totally focused on them.
3 – Summarize – At the end of your meeting give them a heartfelt thank you and a hug or warm handshake – whichever you’re more comfortable with. Give them a short re-cap of the discussion and tell them what you agreed to do during the meeting to again reiterate that you were paying attention and it meant enough to you to make a list. If appropriate, write down any agreements you mace and include these in your summary. Be sure to thank the person for talking with you and say a few closing words to help them feel better about who they are and how they’re handling the situation.
This is a simple equation, but it does take practice. Particularly if you’ve been one of those people who turns every discussion into an opportunity to talk about yourself. See Rule 1.