TECH, BUSINESS AND CAREER INSIGHTS

How To Be a Better Listener

By: TSP Blog | @TSProckstar

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…What was that? Oh, sorry, I checked out for a minute. I was thinking about lunch. And scanning emails. And wondering if I paid a bill.

A lot of problems are because of the failure to listen. But let’s face it—listening, really listening, is hard. Like any skill, it takes constant practice and discipline to improve.

TSP is a big believer in the power of listening, which is a foundation of our company culture. From day one, being a company that truly listens to clients has set us apart. Solving the problems that others wouldn’t listen to has helped TSP expand as a business, and we’ve succeeded over the years because clients prefer working with people who hear them loud and clear.

THINK ABOUT THE PERSON YOU RESPECT MOST. ARE THEY A GOOD LISTENER?
The people we respect most are probably the ones who are reliable, trustworthy, and make decisions with care. They probably have all those qualities because they’re good listeners.

When people really listen, they get all the information, and they’re much more reliable and trustworthy as a result.

LISTEN WITH YOUR EYES.
No matter how great you are at multitasking (or how great you think you are), the person talking feels ignored if you never look at them. Parents often tell children, “Look at me when I talk to you,” but adults don’t say the same to each other. If someone is speaking to you, take your eyes off the phone screen, the papers on your desk, and the window and look at them instead.

You don’t have to devote 100 percent eye contact to the speaker—intense eye contact can be intimidating, especially if the speaker is shy—but your eyes should let the speaker know that they have your full attention.

IF YOUR MIND WANDERS, TRY TO PICTURE WHAT THE PERSON IS SAYING.
Listening intently takes a lot of energy. To be a better active listener and keep your mind from wandering, try picturing what the speaker is saying.

It doesn’t matter if your mental picture is literal or abstract; if you’re tuned in, your brain will do the work for you. If your thoughts start to trail off, train yourself to notice quickly and refocus on the mental picture.

DON'T TRY TO PLAN WHAT TO SAY NEXT.
You can’t plan your next sentence and truly hear what someone is saying at the same time. If you’re too busy thinking about what to say, you’re not actually listening.

Planning your reply while listening can be a tough habit to break, especially if you’re not confident about coming up with quick responses. If someone finishes speaking and you don’t know what to say, tell them you’re going to think about what they told you and respond later when you’ve had time to ponder what they said.

WAIT FOR A PAUSE BEFORE ASKING FOR CLARIFICATION.
When trying to be a great listener, sometimes we work so hard to understand what someone is saying that we interrupt with questions. Instead, let the speaker finish their thought, since they might answer your question on their own.

If you’re worried about forgetting a question or you want to let them finish a whole story before you ask, jot down questions as you listen.

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