Are you fully present when you’re talking with colleagues, family, or friends? If you said, “no,” I’m not at all surprised. There are many distractions clamoring for your attention. If your day is something like mine you’re doing your best to manage work life with family priorities. The lines between our personal and professional lives constantly blur and intersect. And thanks to smartphones we’re only one swipe away from the next distraction.
Additionally, it also doesn’t help that the average person remembers between 25% and 50% of what he or she hears according to various studies. Before you have time to focus and then process what you’ve heard you’re already onto your next task. But, if you want to be more productive or a better leader, research suggests actively listening to others and being fully present in conversations will make you more effective.
Listening is hard work
There are a many reasons we check out. Some popular examples are:
- You’re not interested in the topic
- You’re avoiding a difficult conversation
- You’re being critical
- You disagree with the other person’s approach or idea
Don’t fret! You have the ability to be a better listener. Here are five tips to help you:
Stop talking – Remember, you can’t listen and speak at the same time. Take a pause to listen more and talk less.
Remove distractions – Pay attention to the things distracting you and take it out of the equation.
- If it’s your cell phone, turn it off.
- If you’re at a conference and/or meeting, give the speaker you full attention. Make eye contact or ask a question.
Be patient – Some individuals take longer to make a point, give the person time. Don’t cut another person off or try to finish their sentence. If you have time constraints let the person know up front.
Empathize with others – Take a moment and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Look at the situation from their perspective. Did you know empathy is highly correlated to effective leadership?
G.I. Joe says, “Knowing is half the battle.” Now you know but knowing isn’t enough. Make time to put these tips into action. Remember, we all get better with practice.
I would love to hear tips or advice on this topic. I look forward to your comments.