Listen to learn, not to defend!
by Andy Swingley
Thomas & King
One of the skills we should all take time to be better at everyday is listening. Many opportunities pass us by each day when we don’t engage in “active” listening. There is a positive benefit to be gained from everyone you interact with on a daily business especially in your career or business. In the competitive world of business, people occasionally view listening, learning, and changing as a vulnerable or weak value. Some would say, well if I don’t stand up for my position or prove my point, I will get walked on or miss the next big chance. Every person you engage with achieved the level of their current position with an attribute or skill that is worthy of understanding!
So slow down, look the person in the face and listen. Close your mouth and open your ears. Slow your mind down and really try to understand the message that is being given to you. Set aside proving the idea that is coming out of the other person’s mind is wrong or needs corrective coaching from you. When engaged in active listening, practice these mental behaviors:
What is the outcome of this conversation? Are you here to learn something, be sympathetic to a plight, or help solve a problem – ask the person talking to you which one it is – this will give you a better foundation to listen from
What is the topic?
Why does the subject mean this much to the person delivering it?
How can I better listen to understand what this person means?
Validate points back in the conversation – what I hear you saying is….. Then the person talking to you can determine if you are getting it and agree or reframe the discussion to present it better for you
Ask for specifics when the discussion gets off course or “tangents” away from the outcome you discussed at the beginning
And, if you just can’t keep your mouth shut…..take pen in hand, scratch pad and take notes about what the person is saying. This will force you to hear and capture the message.
So………listen to learn and not to defend
When you become a truly great listener, you develop a “mentor” quality that attracts people to you.
When you become a truly great listener your relationships, both personal and professional, become deeper and more satisfying.
When you become a truly great listener, your quality of life improves.
When you become a truly great listener, you learn from others, and this is where the best ideas come from!