A post by guest blogger Jeremy Kourdi
Some reflections on why and how to listen more effectively.
- To influence others, first listen to them. People don’t like being pushed, or even cajoled, to do something, so when you need others to take action or change their behaviour then inspire them to commit, don’t coerce them. The best way to influence is to listen, without your own needs and biases getting in the way.
- Listen to understand and learn. Try to understand where your colleagues are coming from and resist the urge to defend or explain yourself or to offer quick fixes. You can help more effectively later, when the time is right, if you don’t pre-judge what they need. Instead, remember that you are listening to learn.
- Lower resistance by listening. When you encounter opposition to an idea or suggestion, you can either battle with the other person so you get what you want, or you can reinforce your relationship by listening. When someone doesn’t agree with you it’s natural to repeat yourself, often more loudly. If you are getting pushback, stop trying to convince and instead listen to their point of view, take it on board and resistance will often disappear.
- Be an ‘active’ listener and develop your listening skills. When you speak with someone take time to actively listen and question. This helps to build understanding and to develop a bond that is both genuine and informed. Repeat back what you’ve heard to make sure you truly understand what the other person means.
- Ask thoughtful, open questions so you can see the issue more clearly and allow the other person to explain in greater depth what they care about and why they care about it.
- Develop rapport by show empathy and genuine warmth. This means being supportive, open, positive, constructive and engaging – not simply ‘friendly’. Energy, enthusiasm, understanding and sensitivity are all important. Above all, be authentic, but adopt the right approach for the audience and situation.
- Show that you’re listening. People tune in to body language. Manage where you look and what you do with your hands so that the person you’re with knows you’re paying attention.
- Listen without reacting. Remember, even the best listeners sometimes have to bite their tongues to stop from reacting, interrupting, or trying to console the person talking.
- To truly listen try to avoid distractions. This doesn’t just mean putting down the smart phone; try not to think about what you’re going to say next. Simply focus on what the other person says.
Finally, there is, perhaps, one rule above all others, and it is this: if you are in the same company as someone else, a real person, then decide at the beginning whether you are going to really listen to them or not. And then do it well.
Jeremy Kourdi ([email protected])