Do you ever feel like you’re shouting out loud and no one is listening? Sometimes I do. People are screaming and yelling at each other but resist hearing the other side of the story.
I forced myself to listen to the State of the Union address, even though I was ready with a barf bag. Others chose to boycott the speech. I didn’t blame them. I was seriously tempted to do the same myself. But isn’t that what’s wrong with society and our government right now? No one is willing to listen to the other side so they can judge issues objectively.
My experience at the Women’s March is a good case in point. Millions of women, men, and children were out there. Some braving extreme cold, and afterward, it was like it never happened. People on the other side didn’t listen. They didn’t care that hundreds of thousands of people (maybe millions) were unhappy about our current state of affairs. Our concerns were not considered or addressed and were sloughed off as unimportant.
The same thing happened when 90% of the Congress and Senate voted for sanctions on Russia and were completely ignored. Good leadership means serving everyone involved and not for the chosen few.
It all comes down to having the ability to listen
And not just for our hard-of-hearing government, even though they are some of the worst offenders. On both sides. . . on both sides. . . It applies to all of us in everyday life.
- Do you listen to your spouse or are you too busy staring at your phone?
- Are you hearing what your children have to say or are you immediately judging them?
- Do you address the concerns of your customers and work to satisfy their needs or are you only focused on your bottom line?
- Is it we, you, you, or I, I, I?
Below are keys to good listening:
It’s easy to jump in and interrupt when someone is talking to you. You get so excited about adding your thoughts to the mix you burst in and vomit them. Instead, take a breath and let the person finish their thought. Then, take another breath and add your two cents.
Are you a networking nitwit?
Have you ever been to a networking event for business? Did you nab the first person available and try to sell them on your product or services? There’s no better way to turn them off. Next time you approach someone you don’t know, start by asking them a question about themselves. Be authentically interested and then respond or ask more questions based on what they say.
Attempt to feel what the other person is feeling
Have empathy with their experience. Put yourself in their shoes. Try to understand why they feel the way they do. When you respond, reflect their feelings by acknowledging what they’ve said. “I understand why you may be angry.” “That must have been a stressful situation.”
Watch what isn’t being said
Non-verbal communication can tell you volumes about the person you’re having a conversation with even if it’s over the phone. Listen to their intonations as they speak. You’ll be able to tell if they’re happy, sad, angry, or confused. Take cues from what you hear and see.
Body language in a face-to-face conversation is even more powerful. Are they making eye contact? Do they seem nervous or bored? The best listener is able to sense the atmosphere of a situation and react in sync.
Don’t offer solutions to their problem
Let the person you are listening to voice their thoughts and emotions. Wait until they ask to hear your opinion rather than offer it immediately. Validate what they’re saying and let them know their thoughts are important.
A good listener has power
The key to negotiation is silence. “He who speaks first loses.”
Are you a good listener? Do you have any other tips on listening you’d like to offer? Please leave a comment below.