Learning how to improve leaderships skills doesn’t only affect your professional relationships, but also enhances your personal ones.
The #1 step to taking your skills as a leader up a notch is a simple concept, but for many a difficult one to implement–
Exceptional leaders are also fantastic listeners. They know when to stop talking and understand the importance of actively listening to those they lead.
Does this mean they always were great listeners? For some yes, but for others they work at perfecting this skill. This means you can too! Read the steps you need to implement below, and if you haven’t watched our training video on effective communication, you can view it here.
7 Steps You Can Take to Becoming a Better Listener
1. Learn to stop talking. The first step to improving your listening skills is to stop talking. How can you listen to what others are saying if you are too busy talking? This also includes talking to yourself. Don’t be worried about what you need to say next or how you had the same experience happen to you, focus on the words of the person you are listening to.
2. Listen with a purpose. To help you shut off your inner voice while you are listening, train yourself to listen with a purpose. Whether you are listening to learn something new about the person or learning how they can challenge you, there is a wealth of information for you to absorb.
3. Clarify what you hear. In order to better understand what you are hearing, clarify the information by paraphrasing before offering a response. Often times you will find that what you heard may not be what they were trying to relay.
4. Gain more information. Before you jump in to tell them a solution or offer your two cents, ask more questions to gather additional information, or to dig deeper. When listening, remain very curious to what they are saying by asking open ended questions to keep them talking.
5. Pay attention to body language. Make sure that your body language matches your willingness to listen. Keep your arms unfolded and maintain eye contact. Let them know that you are paying attention. Also, be observant to non verbal cues. What are they saying behind the words ,with their body language, may be just as important as the actual words.
6. Don’t make it about you. When you do begin talking, don’t make it about you. Remember to keep the focus of the conversation on the person you are talking with. Never be too busy or to self absorbed to listen actively. If the time is not right for you to give your undivided attention, let them know and schedule a better time.
7. Close the conversation with a simple ‘Thank You’. One of the most underutilized phrases is a simple, ‘Thank You’. At the end of any conversation, let the individual know that you are thankful for the time you had together and their input. If they offered a valuable contribution, be sure to acknowledge it through your words.
Listening as a leader is one of the most important skills for you to refine. Not only can you learn valuable information about the person you are talking with, you can also learn an infinite amount of wisdom. Take the time to show them you respect them and care about what they have to say–it makes all the difference!
Anyone can master the art of talking, but only a few take the time to become a masterful listener.
Thoughts? Questions? We’d love to hear your comments below.