To communicate effectively you need to do the following:
Active listening is different from hearing. You hear with your ears, but you listen with your mind and your heart. Real listening is an intellectual, attending, emotional, mental process. Active listening takes an effort. Hearing is passive.
If reflection is the ability to “listen back”, then anticipation is the ability to “listen forward”. Listening is a combination then of hearing, perceiving, and understanding.
Listening means being more aware and concerned about the other person than you are of yourself. It is a discipline of self-denial. You delay your input to allow a real opportunity to understand. Without understanding it s all just talk.
Encouraging the speaker to tell their story or finish their thoughts without hindrance or conditions. Don t think about your response while the other person is talking.
Focus on the feelings behind the words. Reflect back to the person the content and emotions of their message.
Are you a good listener?
Think about your relationships with the people in your life—your boss, colleagues, subordinates, best friend, and spouse. If asked, what would they say about how well you listened? Do you often misunderstand assignments or only vaguely remember what people have said to you. If so, you may need to improve your listening skills. The first step is to understand how the listening process works.
- Don’t talk—listen. People like to have a chance to get their own ideas or opinions across. A good listener lets them do it.
- Don’t jump to conclusions. Many people will tune out a speaker when they think they have the general idea of the conversation.
- Ask questions. It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “Do you mean .?” or “Did I understand you to say .?”
- Keep an open mind. The point of listening it to gain new information.
- Listen to others’ points of view and ideas. It could turn out to be fascinating.
- Provide feedback. Make eye contact, nod your head and if appropriate, interject a comment such as “I see,” or “That’s interesting,” or “Really?”
Observe everything that is happening in the communication process. Try to understand the non-verbal signals given out by people. Observe details.
Keep in mind that your attitudes and behavioral style will influence your perception, and perception influences observation.
Listen attentively and observe aggressively, seek clarification when there are unclear messages.
This is the skill of appropriate questioning, asking the right question at the right time in the right way.
- Ask Open Questions – Who, What, Where, When, Why How.
- How can I help you today?
- What brought you to this house?
- Tell me about…
- What brings you here today?
- Don t Use Closed Questions – These have Yes or No answers.
- To the other person it seems like you are interrogating them. They close the conversation down.
- Can I help you vs How can I help you?
- Are you looking for a certain type of house? vs What type of house are you looking for?
- It can seem like a subtle difference but it has a major effect. Try not to use the open form.
- Reflective probing questions – They develop and expand the conversation.
- You seem to prefer this over that, can you tell me why?
- Can you give me an example?
- Leading questions – Designed to bring people your way.
- You looked at this before buying it. Didn’t you?
- They close up conversations, try not to use them.
You have listened, observed, and questioned; now you have to verify that both sender and receiver understand each other.
- Paraphrase, reflect, say it in a different way. Do not be a parrot.
- What I hear you saying is…
- What I understand you to mean is…
People like to be communicated to the way they are, not the way you are (according to their attitude & behavioral style). Be prepared, clear, direct, logical, and accurate. Explain it to them their way.
Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness. Understanding your personal style of communicating will go a long way toward helping you to create good and lasting impressions on others. By becoming more aware of how others perceive you, you can adapt more readily to their styles of communicating. This does not mean you have to be a chameleon, changing with every personality you meet. Instead, you can make another person more comfortable with you by selecting and emphasizing certain behaviors that fit within your personality and resonate with another.