Shut up. Shut up. You are here to listen.
– Tom Peters
Do you consider yourself a good listener? Congratulations! This is a critical skill for you to bring to the table especially as it is estimated that 40% of your daily work activities are directly attributed to listening.
Since listening is instrumental in increased productivity, quicker achievement of goals and healthier relationships between colleagues, you might want to challenge your assessment…. just in case. Particularly, as a study of over 8000 people found that virtually all of the respondents believe they listen as effectively as or more effectively than their coworkers—and we know they can’t all be right!
There is no other single goal you can set for yourself that will help you become more effective at work than improving your listening. This skill alone is critical to being more efficient and productive, check out these tips to see if you can improve your skills.
- Fight Taking a Break: You see on average, human beings speak at a rate of about 150 words per minute, yet our mind processes 500 to 600 words per minute. This means our brain often gets bored and takes a break from the conversation. It requires slowing your brain down, paying attention to every word, noting every facial expression, tone of voice and gesture to stay present.
- Fight the Statistics: Most humans only listen with 25 to 50% efficiency. This means 50 to 75% of what you hear is never processed. You’re missing much of the conversation without being aware of it! In fact, listening halfheartedly has become a fine art for many of us. To be an effective listener you simply have to concentrate diligently.
- Fight Believing Words Are Enough: Good listening demands that we not only understand what is said but what is truly meant behind the words spoken. Skilled listeners must be sensitive to non-verbal signals. Studies indicate that we communicate 7% with words, 38% through tone of voice and 55% with facial expressions, posture and gestures. Not surprising, when you consider that body language has a 50,000 year evolutionary jump on the spoken word!
- Fight Thinking You Already Know: You need to check your thinking to make sure you stop listening simply because you believe you know more about the situation than the speaker. This unconsciously blocks true collecting of information.
- Fight Laziness: At time, the speaker’s lack of communication skills makes listening difficult. And in today’s global marketplace, there is an additional layer of complexity as you in all probably are listening to follower workers who have diverse backgrounds and often speak in a different dialect than your own. Choose to make time. Choose to stay focused. Choose to honor everyone you are speaking with.
As you can see, you have to listen with two ears, tune in to receive, hold your own thoughts at bay, remain entirely present in the moment, concentrate on the nuances as well as stop rehearsing what you’re going to say next. As you improve and become more effective in any of these areas of listening, you will reap enormous benefits as research has found that you’ll obtain more information; increase trust; reduce conflict; understand how to motivate others better; achieve increased productivity; and inspire higher levels of commitment. Consistently improving your listening is a gift you give yourself in every area of your life.