Good communication has long been regarded as a foundation skill of strong leaders. With communication skills, a leader can build trust and robust relationships. They can successfully develop their teams, improve results and influence others. Core to communication is mastering listening. Why do we all need to listen? Because this is the way we learn, understand, empathise, help and be entertained.
We’ve identified 8 simple steps to take to become a master listener!
STEP 1: REMOVE DISTRACTIONS
Put away phones and laptops. Move to a quiet room with no distractions. Or even take a walk. It’s a great way to talk and listen.
STEP 2: STAY FOCUSED
Stay present in the conversation. Don’t let your mind drift to other things. Don’t forget to pay attention to body language – body language is all part of how we communicate with one another.
STEP 3: BE EMPATHETIC
Imagine you’re walking in the other person’s shoes. Even though it can be hard, try seeing things from their point of view. By leaning slightly forward, the other person thinks you’re interested in hearing more.
STEP 4: USE BODY LANGUAGE FOR NON-VERBAL CUES
When you look someone in the eye, it tells the other person that they have your undivided attention. Nodding your head also reiterates that you’re present in the conversation. Be aware not to fidget or slouch – this is body language that betrays boredom and disinterest. React to what the other person is saying, it shows you’re interested.
STEP 5: DON’T INTERRUPT
When you interrupt, it shows you aren’t really listening. If you do interrupt, apologise immediately and ask the person to continue.
STEP 6: ASK QUESTIONS
By asking questions, like “what happened next?” or by offering validation, such as “I agree”, you can move the conversation forward.
STEP 7: DON’T BE CRITICAL
If you criticise someone, they won’t confide in you again. Even if you disagree with what the person is saying to you, stay non-judgemental. Once the person finishes speaking, you can calmly state your counterargument.
STEP 8: BE HONEST
When it’s your turn to speak, be respectful but honest. Be polite. If you want to strengthen your relationship with the other person, offer your opinion and feelings in return.
Like these steps to becoming a master listener? Download the “How to listen checklist“ to keep as a handy reference.
For more information on our leadership communication programs, visit our leadership programs page.