Are You Listening? By Vikki Kempker

I was at a luncheon recently where a speaker asked a question to the group that each person was to answer as they introduced themselves to the room. After the last person spoke the speaker stood up and made reference to 3 attendees on how what they answered was relevant to him personally. He proceeded to give his presentation to the group.

A few weeks later I met with one of the attendees who was so impressed with how the speaker listened to what each person said and used it as a transition to his presentation.

This took me by surprise until I later gave it some thought. We are so preoccupied with our own thoughts and preparing our response to the person speaking, that we have lost the art of listening.

So if you find yourself multi-tasking as people are talking, preparing your rebuttal to a comment they made while the person is still speaking, or are mentally preoccupied this blog is for you.

The key to being a better listener is to be aware of how you are showing up when you are engaged in conversations with people. Here are some guidelines to observe that will maximize your listening skills:

• Don’t interrupt – This gives the perception that you are more important than they are; “I really don’t care what you think”, or “I don’t have time for your opinion”
• Avoid all distractions – Turn your cell to silent, close the door and clear your mind
• Be present – The person deserves to be heard. It builds trust and rapport
• Listen without jumping to your own conclusions – Allow the person to voice their opinion. You may miss something and if you interrupt, the person will not have the opportunity to complete their thoughts
• Ask questions…seek to understand

Listening is a skill that we can all improve. By becoming a better listener, you will improve your productivity, as well as your ability to influence, persuade and negotiate. A few benefits are you’ll reduce conflict and misunderstandings. Are you listening?

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