Being a good listener isn’t always on the top of the How to be a Top-Notch Employee list, but this is one of the most important skills you must possess for your career to take off.
If you want to develop this simple skill into a lifetime asset, follow these six steps:
Be Genuinely Fascinated
Not every conversation you find yourself in is a stimulating one.
When it’s outside of your zone of interest, you tend to space out. While it’s easy to pretend you’re tuning in to what your boss or colleague is saying, it’s undoubtedly not a mark of an excellent listener.
But how can you remedy this? You must be able to find interest in every person that strikes a conversation with you. You have to develop a sense of curiosity towards everything — from excruciating statistics to scientific concepts to drum lessons. If you want to be a great listener, you must be able to tap into your inquisitive nature to help you stay engrossed with discussions inside and outside the boardroom.
Know How to Hold a Gaze
When you’re talking to someone, refrain from fixing your eyes on the wall clock or staring at shoe stains. If you want to be an effective listener, you must be able to establish good eye contact with the person you’re in dialogue with.
That doesn’t mean that you have to gawk at someone for forty minutes straight without breaking eye contact. You can occasionally let your eyes wander, but make sure that for the most of the conversation, you are looking at the person you’re talking to. Being able to hold a gaze is a show of interest, trust, and respect. Aside from that, when you maintain eye contact, you’ll be able to focus on each word that rolls out of their mouths, and that will help you achieve a better understanding of the topic at hand.
Have a Good Memory Bank
When you pay attention to people, you’ll be able to recall little details about them — like how they love matcha, how much they enjoy skiing, or how they own three retrievers and a poodle.
Listening intently to people you regularly interact with is essential because you get to acquire relevant information about them, which you can use in future conversations. That is a great way to establish rapport among your peers. Being an excellent listener shows that you value what they have to say, not only when it comes to working.
Aside from that, this skill also comes in handy when you’re in the boardroom. Being able to remember essential details can be your strength. When everybody’s trying hard to wrack their brains, you can quickly put them out of their misery with your good memory bank, all thanks to attentive listening.
Give Your Two Cents
Part of being a great listener is knowing the importance of giving constructive feedback. When your superior asks the team a question at the end of the meeting, you must develop the habit of asking questions, expressing agreement, or sharing insights. Why is this important? When harnessing your listening skills, you are also developing your critical thinking skills. When you’re genuinely listening, you are also processing and evaluating the information you’re receiving. So, retire the notion that being a good listener means being passive.
Refrain From Chiming In
You might be itching to squeeze in a question, but you must know when’s the best time to chime in, especially in a professional setup.
When you chisel in while another person is speaking mid-sentence, you’ll make him lose his train of thought. So, if you want to develop your listening skills, learn how to stay put, and let people finish their sentences. You have to understand that for you to build listening skills, you must have a knack for timing.
Welcome All Forms of Feedback
When you’re in dialogue with someone, be receptive — whether it’s a serious one-on-one or a lighthearted chat. Through slight nods, words of agreement, and open posture, show that you welcome whatever they are saying.
Refrain from crossing your arms, rolling your eyes, or playing with your phone as this shows disinterest and outright rudeness. Whether you’re mad or you’re bored, always maintain a level of professionalism. If you have aspirations of being a good listener, you have to be accepting of any input or feedback from your boss and coworkers.
Listening is a crucial skill at work and in life. By following these steps, you’ll be able to develop a powerful asset that will set you apart from the rest. But remember, learning the art of good listening is not a one-time process. Like any discipline out there — painting, dancing, or learning an instrument, the road to mastery entails constant practice and dedication.