It is axiomatic that you can’t listen while you are talking. Unfortunately, most of us spend more time talking than we do listening. Why do we talk so much?
- To communicate with purpose
- Because everyone else is talking
- We have an urge to talk
- We want attention
- Sometimes, we just don’t know.
Are you one of those who needs to dominate a conversation? Do you jump in and interrupt or block other’s attempts to talk? If these are habits you need to break, you need to W.A.I.T.
Ask yourself, “Why Am I Talking?”
If there’s no conclusive answer. Stop!
To be a better listener, eliminate these bad habits:
- Interrupting the speaker.
- Not looking at the speaker.
- Rushing the speaker and making him feel that he’s wasting the listener’s time.
- Showing interest in something other than the conversation.
- Getting ahead of the speaker and finishing her thoughts.
- Not responding to the speaker’s requests.
- Saying, “Yes, but . . .,” as if the listener has made up his mind.
- Topping the speaker’s story with “That reminds me. . .” or “That’s nothing, let me tell you about. . .”
- Forgetting what was talked about previously.
- Asking too many questions about details.
Be Attentive: Eliminate distractions and focus on the speaker. This includes distractions of ego, your agenda, and judgements.
Listen beyond the words. Tone of voice, pace and pitch, body language are all clues to the speaker’s state. Pay attention to the nonverbal cues.
Put your ego aside. Let go of your need to control a conversation. Ask discovery questions to fully understand the speaker; let them take you where they want to go. Be engaged, but not in control. Let the speaker finish then wait before responding.
Be open to new ideas. During a conversation where new ideas are being discussed, it is easy to listen to argue. Don’t be threatened. Listen to learn.