When it comes to conversations, many of us are so busy that we listen for as long as we have the time to, then jump in with our own views, thoughts or comments. While you might feel as though this technique allows you to work harder or achieve more, it’s actually rather harmful, both to yourself and the people you’re engaging with. It can also cost businesses a lot of money! Here, we share some surprising benefits of good listening and for those of you who have made a promise to become better at this skill, there’s a few tips on how to listen well too.
Benefits of Listening Well
When it comes to listening, for many of us, it’s something we feel we just don’t have time for – on all but the rarest, of occasions. Here are a few reasons why you really should take the time to become a better listener:
- It can give you a break from constantly multi-tasking and focus on just one thing – and person.
- The person doing the talking will feel valued, or their problems really listened to and understood – which can help with their self-esteem or self-worth.
- You can feel as though you’ve done something properly, which can be an achievement in itself.
- If you’re listening to a customer complaint or query, really listening and showing them you’ve understood them is a great way to build good customer relations. The same goes for when you’re talking with your staff.
Blocking out everything else to really concentrate on one important thing is a great habit to get into. It helps you do that in other situations too – where appropriate – which stops you from feeling constantly under pressure and stressed.
To some of you, one or two of these benefits might not seem important. However, being able to focus properly on one thing at a time is a good skill to have. Not only does it help you concentrate and complete that task well, it’s also good for your mental wellbeing.
How to Listen Properly
Listening to a colleague, your superior, subordinate or client, is an everyday part of many people’s jobs. Of course, most people are also time poor so while they hear what another person is saying, they don’t always truly listen. This is a fault that many people share, from management down. Luckily, it’s easy enough to rectify and the results will likely surprise you!
Ways to listen properly and show the person you’re talking with that you’re really engaged include:
- Put down any electronic devices or turn away from your screen.
- Go into an empty, quiet room or area to ensure no distractions.
- Make it clear you’re listening and have understood important points by saying a word or making a noise, such as “yes”, “uhuh” or “I see”.
- Clarify points you found confusing, or you think the speaker believes could be difficult to understand.
- Thank the person for sharing that information or talking about a difficult subject.
- Wherever possible, act on what the person told you and if you can’t, explain why.
Many of these tips are part of the ‘active listening’ practices that are endorsed around the world. But you don’t have to enact all of them to show the person you’re talking with that you’re really listening to them.
Just Try It
Even if you try just one or two of the listening techniques we’ve detailed above, we know you’ll be surprised at the benefits you’ll experience. As well as a bigger sense of achievement, or job well done from your own perspective, those you’ve engaged will be happier to talk with you in the future and also think well of you, too.