Speak Well. Listen Well.
Are you familiar with the saying that you have two ears and one mouth – so you should listen twice as much as you speak! Easier said than done for some of us. For others, maybe it is EASY! Or maybe you are quiet, but you are not actively listening! Listening is a communication skill that is super important!
One of the most important things in communication is not what you say, but how you listen.
We’ve all seen that famous Abbott & Costello skit, Who’s On First? Listening can be tough!
It’s critical to listen well in order to be heard well.
Having self-awareness is about listening well by:
- Paraphrasing/Summarizing – Basically restating what you heard them say.
- Reflecting Feelings – Consider what they might be feeling, and possibly even ask how they are feeling.
- Clarification – Just like you might clarify feelings, ask if you understood something, or ask them to say it in a different way.
- Body Language – just like our puppy up there. He’s got his head cocked, and you know he’s waiting to hear your next word. Body language matters! Eye contact and body language not only communicate to the other person that we are engaged and listening, but it helps us stay engaged too!
- Let the other person talk – don’t interrupt! Hear them out.
- Ask open-ended questions – don’t just ask yes and no questions, ask things that require them to really give you more information by asking “Why? What?, or How?” questions.
- Provide feedback but do not interrupt. You can do this with body language or with words (preferably not an ill-timed eye roll).
- Spend more time listening than talking – remember the 2 ears 1 mouth thing!
- Do not finish the other person’s sentences – when we do that, we are assuming we know what they are going to say. Listen first, then clarify.
- Plan responses after the other person finishes speaking – this is a tough one, but try not to be thinking of what you are going to say.