Listening matters! It does. Really. But, do you do it well? Do you do it often? Do you even know how to listen? There’s listening and there’s reflective listening. All listening is about being present with another human being regardless of the situation. You could be having a conversation in person, on the phone, or even in a text or email exchange. The first step to effective listening is to be conscious…to be mindful…to be with what is in the present moment.
Here are four steps to effective listening. I call it STAR Power™ and it works like this:
Let the other person finish speaking. Don’t interrupt. Pay attention. Be present. Be mindful. Be nice. Open your mind.
Decode the message for the meaning. When in doubt, check it out. Remember, it’s the mutual responsibility both the sender and the receiver to make sure the message sent is the message received. You can’t blame the other person if you don’t understand. Ask questions until you do understand.
Show the speaker you are listening–nod your head, make listening noises, and give eye contact. Remember, just because someone is nodding their head while someone is talking doesn’t mean they are in total agreement with what is being said.
Now it’s your turn. Respond, don’t react! The difference is thought and presence. Pay attention to your non-verbal signals and tone of voice. Make sure they align with your words.
When you get to this last step, you may also choose Reflective Listening. Simply restate the speaker’s message using your own words to make sure you fully understood what was said and meant. This is especially helpful when ending a conversation or a meeting to make sure eveyone fully understands what happened/was said. If you have action items, clarify them now. Always be aware of your non-verbal signals and your tone of voice so as not to cause conflict or put the other person/people on the defensive.
There are several “lead in” phrases you can use for reflective listening including:
“Let me be sure I understand. Do you feel (think, mean, etc.)…?”
“Sounds to me like…”
“In other words…”
Being a good listener helps you increase productivity, profitability and peace of mind. Just do it.