We often think that conversation is all about talking good. This is a misconception. As the old saying goes, we humans have two ears and one mouth, so perhaps nature designed us to listen more and talk comparatively less. However we generally fail to follow this law of nature.
Specially in the corporate life, speaking is important to express your views and speaking up is even more important. However, listening is generally given less importance. Executives, in a meeting, are always under presser to speak to showcase that they are in command and the quiet executives are generally presumed to be lacking leadership skill or dispassionate.
No doubt, speaking, especially public speaking is important for your career. But always remember that listening eventually makes an individual a better speaker and the culture of listening in an organization makes the entire workplace a better place to work.
Listening skill can be acquired with a little practice. Focus on the below to become a better listener.
a. Listen, don’t pretend to listen. Listening is not a favour to others so do it sincerely every time. Always remember that whenever you are listening, you are learning something.
b. Listening is not your preparation time: Don’t think about your response/next sentence while you are listening to someone else. Actually focus on what the other is saying.
c. Be involved. Ask questions, react, appreciate or make physical gestures while listening.
d. Don’t start day-dreaming. Most people go in a wonderland or start thinking about something else while others are speaking. Avoid it by being involved in the conversation (point c above)
e. Hold your horses. Make your point once the speaker has made her/his point. If you fear that you might miss an important point later in a discussion, you can make a quick note of your point.
f. Avoid distractions. Constantly make eye-contact with the speaker. Avoid looking at your mobile phone or laptop screen while conversing.
g. Don’t be judgemental. Respect dialogues/opinions from anyone and everyone you are talking to.
h. For leaders in a group meeting, be the last one to speak and moderate so that everyone in the room gets opportunity to speak.
I hope you will try these methods in your next conversations and I will be happy to hear your experience.