How often have you gone out to dinner with family members or friends and been distracted by a text message, a social media post, or even a funny online video? Was there a moment when everyone stopped talking with each other and started looking at their phones instead? Today’s technology helps us connect to each other, but it also makes it easy for us to get distracted and stop listening.
Listening is a valuable skill that helps you build relationships and your business. A good listener makes people feel respected, and he gains their respect in return. When you really listen to your customers, you can better determine what they need and how to help them. Here are ten ways to improve your listening skills and stay connected to the people around you.
Ten ways to improve your listening skills
Pick one of the following tips and practice it in a conversation today. The more you practice being a good listener, the easier it becomes!
- Avoid distractions. Listening is hard when potential distractions are pulling your attention away. When you’re meeting with a new customer, choose a quiet location, put your cell phone away, and turn off the television. Set the tone at a home meeting by asking everyone to put their phones in a basket until the meeting is over.
- Put technology away after you’re done using it. Have a video that you want to share with a prospect? That’s great! Show the video and talk about it together. Then close your laptop so you won’t be tempted by incoming emails or social media updates during the middle of a conversation.
- Be genuinely interested. Challenge yourself to learn something new about the people you meet. Set the expectation that you’ll find value in what everyone has to say. If it is difficult for you to talk to someone new, pretend that he is an old friend and that you are excited to learn more about his life.
- Follow the 75/25 rule. Practice allowing the other person to talk for over half of the conversation.
- Stay focused. Pretend like you are going to be quizzed on what the other person says when she stops talking. This will help you focus on what she is saying instead of thinking about what you are going to say next.
- Don’t interrupt. Let the speaker finish his thoughts before you jump into the conversation. If you have a thought to share, jot it down instead of interrupting the other person. In a group meeting, practice not talking over the other members of your group.
- Be respectful. Having a serious conversation? Save jokes, silly comments, and that funny online video for another time.
- Show that you’re listening. When someone is talking, make eye contact. Nod your head or provide a verbal cue like “I see,” or “Tell me more.” Turn your body toward the speaker and try not to fidget with your pen or jewelry. Your quality feedback will encourage the speaker to continue sharing.
- Repeat what the speaker said. When the speaker pauses, summarize what you’ve heard her say and ask for clarification if necessary. Ask open-ended questions that show you’ve been paying attention.
- Practice listening with your team members. Listening is a great skill that can be mastered with practice. At your next team meeting or event, do a listening exercise. Have someone speak for five minutes while everyone else listens. At the end of the speaker’s time, ask everyone to write down what they heard the speaker say. Compare notes and work together as a group to improve listening skills.
As you become a great listener, you can learn more about other people, make new friends, better understand what customers need, and ultimately provide more helpful advice as a 4Life® business builder.
Evaluate your listening skills
How are your listening skills? Think back to your most recent conversation and evaluate how well you listened by answering the questions below. Then challenge yourself to improve in one area at a time.
- Describe the environment.
- How many times did you look at your cell phone or computer?
- What percentage of the time did you talk versus listen?
- What cues did you use to help the speaker understand you were listening?
- What questions did you ask to clarify or keep the conversation moving?
- Can you recall important details that the speaker shared?
- Did you learn something new about the speaker?
- Did you help keep the conversation on topic?