How to be a better listener

When you mention the qualities you look for in a great business person, it’s nearly a given that the ‘gift of gab’ is near the top of the list. Everyone loves a business person who can carry a conversation. But, in speaking with Brenda Bence, author of Would You Want to Work for You?, Tom Searcy was reminded that the ability to listen may be more important

This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Inc

Brenda shared an interesting statistic, which is that English speakers can say 125 to 150 words in a given minute but listen to 400 to 550 words in the same amount of time. The old adage goes that he who speaks first loses. To be a great business person you have to listen, but are you doing it effectively? Brenda devised an acronymn called I.L.I.S.T.E.N., listing seven useful steps to consider when you’re on the receiving end of a conversation.

I. Intention

Learn the benefits of listening. You’re in the conversation for a reason, so make it your goal to stay involved.

L. Landscape

Meet in an environment that is conducive to listening. Make sure it’s a quiet place and hang up the ‘do not disturb’ sign if need be.

I. Impartiality

Don’t come into the conversation with a preconceived notion of what you’ll discuss. Allow it to flow, and listen with curiosity.

S. Safeguard

Like landscape, this is all about staying in the moment. Rid yourself of distractions such as social media and ‘phone calls.

T. Target

Now that you’re in the right place, it’s time to get hyper-focused. Target your brain to pay attention.

E. Empathy

Try to understand the other person’s mindset, and to relate to them as they speak, reassuring them that you empathise with what they are saying.

N. No interrupting

For some this is hard, but it’s crucial you don’t sit and wait for your turn to talk. Truly listening takes thought, and thought requires silence. Don’t fear it. Let it resonate so the person feels heard.

Effective listeners become great leaders because listening often leads to real connections. Connecting with employees makes them feel valued and develops trust, which is truly priceless.

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