Are You an Active Listener? 3 Tips for Improving Your Listening Skills
In the following post, Lewis Daidone discusses tips and strategies for becoming an effective and active listener.
Most people think that they’re good (or at least decent) listeners. Well, most people are mistaken about their listening capabilities; they might recall some of the spoken words, but the crux of the communication is often lost. If you’re going to succeed in the accounting profession – or any profession, for that matter – you have to hone your listening skills.
Listen to tone, and pay attention to body language.
Hearing the words people say is obviously important, but the manner in which they communicate those words can give you a tremendous amount of information. This can be challenging because it requires a dual focus: visual and aural. However, if you can get a sense of the speaker’s attitude and emotional state, you are better equipped to respond appropriately. Is the speaker anxious? Annoyed? Excited? Taking these factors into account can help you become a more empathetic listener and effective leader.
Don’t assume you’ve got the idea before the speaker finishes.
Set aside your assumptions until the speaker has completed his/her thought. Repeat the words in your head, if necessary, and ask for clarification if you aren’t absolutely sure. Do not interrupt with affirmations or encouragements (“Yes!” “Exactly!”). Once the speaker has completed his/her point, pause before you comment to ensure that you truly understood the message.
Summarize the speaker’s statement in your own words.
In order to solidify your own understanding of the speaker’s point and to assure him/her that you understand clearly, give a brief summation. Statements such as: “So, what I’m hearing is…” and “If I understand correctly…” , help to clarify the issue for both you and the speaker.
Do your best to practice active listening during your daily conversations. It not only helps you to improve your listening skills, it can also improve your emotional intelligence!