Learning How to Listen

I recently listened to Chris Lee on The School of Greatness podcast discuss how to listen.  Chris is a motivation lifestyle coach and has done a good job of disecting mindset and how to get to your goals.  After listening to him discuss how to acheive your goals and goal setting, I was very interested in his discussion of listening.

Here are the main points I got out of the podcast:

Listening involves more than hearing.

While you have to hear what the person is saying, close to 70% of a conversation is non-verbal.  Pay attention to the words, but also learn how to read body language.  If you’re paying attention, you can tell when someone is withholding or withdrawn.  Acknowledge what you noctice.  If you can feel and see that the person you are talking with is angry, sad or distracted, be sure to let them know that you notice.  By addressing their mood, you can put them at ease or clear the distraction.  This will lead to a deeper and more meaningful conversation.

I know at home, I can tell when my wife is upset with me.  I can also tell when I’m holding back from her.  Clearing those feelings with conversation can save hours or days of a lack of good communication and listening.

Remove yourself from what others are saying.

The best way to make a conversation one-sided is to think about yourself while the other is speaking.  You’re hearing, but not listening.  If you’re formulating your answer while the other person is still talking, you’re going to miss out on parts.  Jumping in with your answer and interupting is selfish and shows you weren’t listening.

This is a difficult task.  Personally, I can get excited during a conversation and instead of fully listening, I hear a part and jump in with an answer.  This can happen when I’m excited to help or when I’m trying to shut down an idea.  Either way, I’m not fully listening and trying to force the conversation in my favor.

Listening makes others feel value.

How many times have you been in a conversation and can tell the other person didn’t seem to care about what you had to say?  How did that make you feel?  Probably had a negative effect.  When others aren’t listening to you, you lose some power and value.  You can feel unwanted and not needed.  If you aren’t listening to others, then you make them feel the same.

In turn, if you are fully listening to others, you make them feel empowered and valued.  This is a key to lean manufacturing at work.  Managers go to the workers and listen to their input.  The workers are in charge of what happens.  They know best.  If they own the process, they will feel empowered to improve upon the process.  Toyota took over the automotive world with this approach.

How to Put Listening to Work

Listening helps build relationships and adds value to those relationships.  Those relationships will make you feel more fulfilled and productive.  Imagine if everything in your life were transparent.  Listening can provide transparency at home, at work and with friends.  Proper listening can allow you to know where you stand with others and understand their agendas.  This can be a very powerful tool and keep you a step ahead in your relationships.  By staying a step ahead, you can add more value to relationships.

At work, you’ll be able to know who is on your agenda and who has their own agneda.  You can quickly make decisions to cut through any head games or drama.

At home, you’ll be able to communicate better with your spouse.  Better communication is the leading key to a happier household.

In future posts, I’ll break down how listening can help specifically at work, at home and with your kids.  Until then, just practice being an active listener.  The benefits will appear immediately.

Let me know what you think about this post in the comments.  As always, if this has helped you, please pass it on to others it may help.