We all want to lead. We all want to make things happen. But in the process many of us forget to listen. Instead of hearing, we direct. Instead of understanding, we command. Yet true leadership and meaningful relationships require that you do more then listen, they require that you actually hear what’s being said.
Learning to listen is perhaps one of the greatest skills we can posses, because the more we listen the better we can understand the world around us. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been the greatest listener at times, but I’ve put a great effort into becoming a better communicator.
The following are 6 steps on how to become a more effective communicator.
Commit: If you want to become a better communicator you must commit to improvement. Begin to take notice of how you act during a typical conversation. Do you interrupt frequently? Do you reject other people’s ideas when they don’t resonate with your own? Do you talk as if you know everything? Making the effort to listen will help you remarkably in your relationships.
Don’t Interrupt: In order to effectively communicate you cannot, I repeat,cannot interrupt. Far too often we get so caught up in our own ideas that we blurt out in hopes of gaining control. It’s important that you let the entire message be conveyed before you give your input. When you interrupt you’re robbing the person’s chance to express his or herself fully. Don’t interrupt, you’ll have your chance to speak.
Put Down Your Shield: Many times when we have conversations we go into a discussion with preconceived notions which blocks our ability to learn and understand. Obviously it’s ok for you to have an opinion but, for you to genuinely listen you must open yourself up fully. It’s OK if you don’t agree with what’s being said, embrace any conversation as a place to learn.
You Don’t Know It All: Have you ever said ” That’s not right” without actually knowing? I know I have. The truth is, you don’t know everything so don’t pretend like you do. Instead of being a know-it-all welcome the fact that you have a lot to learn. When you admit you don’t know everything you’re open to listen with an entirely different perspective which significantly increases communication.
Focus: When talking with someone it’s important to give them your full attention. In our age of distraction, we have hundreds of things going on during a typical conversation which ends up taking away meaning. You can’t listen to someone talk while you’re texting on your cell phone. You cant listen to someone talk while you’re day dreaming. You can’t listen when you’re watching T.V. Only by focusing on the conversation at hand can you really take away the significance of what’s being said.
Care: Care about what’s being said. Care about the ideas being discussed. When you’re interested in what’s being it allows for the conversation to flow. We all know when someone isn’t interested in what we have to say. Don’t waste people’s time pretending you’re being attentive when you’re not. Give people the respect they deserve.
If you’re currently struggling with your relationships put in the effort to improve. For the next few days focus on becoming a becoming a better communicator by sincerely listening. You may be surprised by the results.
How do you communicate effectively? How do you give people your full attention? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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