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Can You Hear Me Now? The Way Leaders Listen What innovators and thought leaders know about communication that you don't. By Jane Marquardt 10 Great Habits to Build.
Be Purposeful A productive conversation is likely to cover a variety of topics. However, it is always important to remember what the original purpose of the interaction was. Do not let the dialogue veer too far off course. Be sure you questions and contributions ultimately serve to achieve that original goal.
Stay Relaxed Striking the right balance between being attentive and making your conversation partner feel comfortable is crucial. Mentally filter out any external distractions. Instead, focus on presenting yourself in a way that is illustrative of your eagerness to sincerely hear what is being said to you.
Open Minds, Open Ears Listen without judgment. A negative internal monologue can do the dual damage of prohibiting you from listening closely enough and also manifesting in the form of an unintended, unsavory change in your tone or facial expressions.
Use Mental Pictures Create a mental image of the information being shared in the conversation. Visualizing abstract concepts in a way that makes sense allows you to better keep your sense on full alert. It is form of active listening that will be sure to benefit your ability to engage effectively.
Eye Contact Is Key Facing the speaker and maintaining eye contact is more than just a sign of respect it actually helps center your focus and keep your attention undivided. Clearly indicating that the conversation is important to you is a great first step to a productive dialogue.
Do Not Interrupt Interrupting, regardless of intentions, is unproductive in the long-run. Firstly, it indicates you do not respect the person speaking enough to allow them to complete their message. Secondly, it prevents you from receiving all the information they intended to share.
Listen for Pauses A good speaker will know to leave plenty of opportunity for interaction, so the conversation doesn't devolve into a one-sided lecture. Take advantage of natural lulls in the flow of information to ask clarifying questions, which prove you are invested in the convo.
Know What Wasn't Said The majority of interpersonal communication is nonverbal. Pay attention to small details like posture, tone of voice, and cadence to pick up on what is not being explicitly expressed. Knowledge is power and these clues hold a treasure trove of information.
Empathy Is Understanding Your mannerisms should mirror the emotion being conveyed to you by the speaker. This is the most natural indication that the information they are sharing is being heard exactly as intended. Put yourself in the other person's metaphorical shoes and be considerate.
Give Good Feedback Clarifying questions are one good way to illustrate your investment in the conversation, but sincere interjections and affirmations are equally effective, as well as less likely to unintentionally break the speaker's flow of thought.