Feb 2

Are You Listening Attentively?

Heinz Landau
Heinz Landau is a seasoned business leader who has gained valuable working and leadership experience on three different continents.

How many times a day are you talking to another person like your boss, your subordinate, a friend, a relative or another person and you notice that your conversation partner is not really present when you speak? He is physically present, but he doesn’t pay much attention to what you say. Take a minute and think how it makes you feel.

And now, let us switch roles. How often does it happen every day that you do not give your full listening presence while someone is talking to you?

But, wait a moment. We think that this is a different situation. Because most of us firmly believe that we are true experts in multi-tasking. We think it is o.k. to search in the Internet or read our e-mails on our laptop or our smart phone while the other person is talking to us. And our ego-mind tells us it is o.k. to take the call when our phone is ringing and to interrupt the conversation with the person in front of us. I noticed that some people even have the guts to pick up their  phone call while they are in the middle of a job interview.

The problem with all that multi-tasking is that we rarely listen effectively.

The problem with all that multi-tasking is that we rarely listen effectively.

Listening and speaking are two components of conversation. Many people tempt to focus on the speaking part. As a result of our self-centeredness, we try to come across in an articulate, knowledgeable and expressive way. It would be better to remember more often that we were born with two ears and one mouth. And in conversations, we should use them more often in that proportion.

The quality of our listening can make a profound difference in any conversation and in any relationship. Therefore, when you are in a conversation, make your partner the most important person in the world at that moment of time. Give him your full presence and listen consciously to him.

Showing your disinterest, boredom, being on auto pilot or showing an urgency for the communicator to finish will put him off.

We often make the mistake to listen to only part of what someone says or we pretend to listen while thinking about something else. Due to our ego and to our often competitive nature, many of us are eagerly waiting for our opportunity to talk. As soon as the other person completes his speaking, we make our point and share our far more important opinion. But in order to be an excellent conversationalist, we must resist the urge to top the other, to take center stage and to dominate the discussion.

Brian Tracy, human resource expert and self-help author, states that listening is the most important of all skills for successful conversations. Many people are poor listeners. Since everyone enjoys talking, it takes a real effort to practice the fundamentals of excellent listening.

Tracy has defined four major rules for active and effective listening in a conversation with business people, friends or family.

1. Listen attentively, without interruptions.

When you pay close attention to another person, you convey to that person that you respect him and that you very much value what he has to say.

2. Pause before replying.

Like this, you avoid running the risk of interrupting the other person when he might not have finished yet. In addition, you show the other person that you are giving careful consideration to his words by not jumping in with your own comments at the earliest opportunity.

3. Question for clarification.

Never assume that you understand what the person is trying to say. Instead, ask, “What do you mean, exactly?”Like this, you demonstrate that you make every effort to understand the speaker’s thoughts or feelings.

4. Practice the friendship factor.

The friendship factor is based on the three Cs of caring, courtesy and consideration.

There is a famous quote stating that “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Caring is the catalyst in all good relationships. Whenever you show another person that you genuinely care about him, you come across better as a conversationalist  and as a friend.

The second C in the friendship factor is courtesy. Good conversationalists always remain polite, calm and friendly which causes people to want to be around them.

The third C is consideration. One of the major sources of positive emotions is the feeling that we are respected and considered highly by other people. Whenever you treat another person as an important and worthwhile human being, you trigger this consideration factor.

To conclude: be aware that people can easily figure out whether you are listening to them attentively or not, whether you are having listening presence or not. Therefore, better always follow the “Golden Rule”. This simply says that you treat other people the way you would like them to treat you. Just as you would like other people to listen attentively to you when you talk, others would like the same courtesy extended to them.

Giving your full listening presence will get you much more value out of your conversations, deeper connections and will result in better relationships.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011 at 11:03 and is filed under Human Resources, Leadership, Management. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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