Listening Tips to Advance Your Career
Guest Blogby Maxine Dolle
What kind of listener are you?
Have you even thought about the kind of listener you are? Most people have not, yet listening thoughtfully and with depth is the key to developing a connection with other people. Among other things, great listeners are better leaders, lead more successful teams, and are able to influence others to action.
Here are 4 Ways to Listen with Impact and Create Action
1. Be empathetic: Know whether the other person’s tone or content is “speaking” to you first. If a person’s tone evokes a strong emotion, respond to the emotion first. Ex: “Sounds like you are (concerned, disappointed, having difficulty with, etc.) with ….” By recognizing and landing the negative emotion, you are neutralizing it; in other words, disarming any hostility. The person can now listen to your content-related questions or comments as well as to any action statements. Great listeners also know that it’s important to recognize and land positive emotion as well. “Sounds like you are (enthusiastic, happy, delighted, optimistic, etc.) about …”
2. Paraphrase: Offer your interpretation of what the other person has said. This is especially effective with words that have many meanings. Paraphrasing shows the depth at which you’re listening, that you’re not taking for granted that both of you have the same meaning in mind. “To me being highly organized means …” “To me, a great product means it includes…”
3. Perception check: Be aware of nonverbal behaviors. As with tone, nonverbals “speak” louder than content. Pay attention to the other’s nonverbals, no matter which of you is speaking. Eye rolling, shifting of position, crossing arms, heavy sighing, averting eye contact without obvious reason may indicate an internal feeling that has become overt. Perception checking must be done in a benign, less direct way – not attacking the obvious behavior. “It seems that my description of “X” may not have been what you expected.” As with the interpretation of tone, great listeners watch for positive behavior to perception check as well. “You appear to be enthusiastic about the new proposal.”
4. Gain Agreement: In each of the circumstances described above, it is critical to gain agreement with the other person – that what you have landed (empathy, paraphrase, perception check) is what that person meant. “Is that what you meant?” “Did I hear you correctly?” “Is that accurate?” “Did I capture that right?”
If you listen at a deeper level, you will improve your effectiveness and have greater efficiencies in one-on-one interactions as well as in meetings, and be perceived as a careful and thoughtful leader, who engages everyone in the work that positively moves toward the organization’s outcomes.
About the author:Maxine Dolle has over 25 years of experience in training and coaching communication skills for organizations such as The Boston Consulting Group, Mercer LLC, Cornerstone Research and Pepsico.Learn more about Maxine Dolle's communication skills training!