Usually when we talk about communication, we focus on how we can better make ourselves understood. Pronunciation, projection, intonation: these are all critical parts of communication, but they focus on only one aspect of conversation—speaking. However, communication is a two-way street. Focusing only on how you speak and ignoring how you listen, means that you’re only doing half of your job as a communicator. Most people take listening for granted, but listening effectively is a skill to be developed and worked on just like any other. Use the following tips to improve your listening skills and become a better communication partner:
Pay Attention! All too often, the listener in a conversation will be looking at the speaker, but not truly listening to what it is they’re saying. Instead, they’re mentally calculating what it is they want to say next. When this happens, the listener often misses valuable information in the conversation, and the speaker ends up feeling slighted. Make understanding, not simply responding, your primary objective.
In addition, most professionals today are completely overwhelmed with work. As a result, many have found themselves constantly multitasking. While this can be beneficial in some situations, it can be deadly to personal communication. If you are trying to read e-mail, organize your agenda, or check your Blackberry while someone is talking to you, you will come across as disinterested in the conversation. Not only will this make you appear extremely rude to your conversational partner, but you may miss key points of the conversation. Resist the urge to accomplish other tasks, and be fully present in the interaction taking place. Both you and the person you are speaking with will feel the difference.
Next week, we’ll continue our discussion on developing effective listening skills with more great tips! In the meantime, visit us at www.corporatespeechsolutions.com to learn about more excellent ways to improve your professional and personal communication!