Where communication is poor, mistakes arise, relationships breakdown and opportunities are missed! There is a real distinction between merely hearing the words and really listening for the message.
When we listen effectively we understand what the person is thinking and/or feeling from the other person’s own perspective. It is as if we were standing in the other person’s shoes, seeing through his/her eyes and listening through the person’s ears. Our own viewpoint may be different and we may not necessarily agree with the person, but as we listen, we understand from the other’s perspective.
People often confuse hearing with listening. While hearing is a function of biology, listening is a function of intentional behavior. Your ability to focus your attention on your customer’s words and body language is the key to building trust and rapport. Most people, stray thoughts intrude quickly, sometimes as often as every ten or fifteen seconds. Each time you find your mind wandering, “grab it” and refocus on your customer.
How well you listen has a major impact on your job effectiveness, and on the quality of your relationships with others. Depending on the study being quoted, we remember a dismal 25-40% of what we hear. That means that when you talk to your boss, colleagues, customers or spouse for 10 minutes, they only really hear 2½-4 minutes of the conversation.
7 Listening Tips to Improve Communication Effectiveness
- Face the speaker and maintain eye contact
- Mentally screen out distractions, like background activity and noise
- Listen without judgment or jumping to conclusions
- Concentrate on what is being said, even if it bores you. If your thoughts start to wander, immediately force yourself to refocus
- Avoid the temptation to interrupt the speaker before he or she is finished talking
- Ask questions to ensure understanding
- Give the speaker regular feedback by nodding your head and show your understanding through appropriate facial expressions and an occasional well-timed “hmmm” or “uh huh”
Active listening is a way to improve your relationships and reduce costly errors that result from misunderstandings. Reflective listening is also known as parallel talk, parroting, and paraphrasing. People often confuse hearing with listening. While hearing is a function of biology, listening is a function of intentional behavior. Your ability to focus your attention on your customer’s words and body language is the key to building trust and rapport.