Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.
~ Doug Larson

The benefits of good communication in any relationship, professional or personal, are many and varied. First and foremost, communication is the cornerstone to every good relationship. Good communication, however, isn’t just about sharing your ideas with others, it’s often said to be 99% listening and 1% talking. Following are eight ways you can improve your listening skills.

  1. Two ears – One mouth. There’s a reason why you were born with two ears and one mouth. You should be listening at least twice as much as you’re talking. If you find yourself monopolizing a conversation, ask questions of the other person. Get their feedback and thoughts.

  2. Be an active listener. When the other person is talking, ask questions to clarify the information they’re sharing with you. This way you’ll make sure you understand exactly what they’re saying, and there are no misunderstandings.

  3. Step into their shoes. When listening to someone, try to see their thoughts from their point of view. Even if you don’t agree with their viewpoint, try to at least understand how they could feel the way they do, and how their feelings affect their thoughts and actions.

  4. Stay in the moment. When listening, don’t spend the time thinking about how you’re going to answer or what you’re going to say next. Focus on the speaker and the message they’re conveying at that moment.

  5. Stay focused. Today, we’re “connected” more than ever before. Don’t let e-mails, texts or phone calls distract you while another person is talking. Turn off your cell phone. Close your e-mail program. Have your calls held. Those things will still be there when you’re done communicating with the person in front of you.

  6. Take notes. In some communication situations, taking notes can both help you clarify what the other person is communicating, but also can provide you with a written record to refer back to later. Allow the speaker to see and comment on the notes you’re taking, to ensure you’re notes are accurate.

  7. Stay on track. Communication is fluid – organic. Therefore, it’s not uncommon that while someone is speaking about one topic, it leads you to think of another (sometimes unrelated) topic you’d also like to discuss. Don’t change the subject until the other person has fully expressed themselves and you both are on the same page about the information shared. If you need to, jot down a note about the ancillary topic you’d like to discuss next and then refocus on the topic at hand.

  8. Don’t jump to conclusions. You may feel like you know what the other person is going to say, but in reality, they may surprise you. Don’t let your expectations about what the message will be bias your listening. Approach every communication with an open mind!

About Colleen Kettenhofen, Leadership Expert

CREDENTIALS: Colleen Kettenhofen is an international workplace and employee management expert, award-winning corporate trainer, and conference keynote speaker. A media veteran, she has appeared on numerous radio shows around the country and has written more than 40 popular articles on diverse workplace issues. Colleen has delivered more than 1,100 entertaining programs in 48 states and five countries. She is the author of 10 published audio programs and two books including SECRETS YOUR BOSS ISN’T TELLING YOU.

 Colleen Kettenhofen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions, and seminars by calling (623)340-7690.