I sat in the room listening to the presentation. Or should I say pretending to listen, my mind was everywhere but on the presentation. I was thinking about all the things I had to do when the event was over. All the work waiting at the office, the various errands I needed to complete on my way home.
Listening is a valuable skill and one we all need to learn. After the presentation, I realized I couldn’t tell anyone a thing the presenter said. Maybe he was a bad presenter, but more likely I just wasn’t listening.
I vowed to improve my listening skills. Learning how to listen better would not only improve my knowledge from presentations but would improve various relationships including my interactions with family.
In the process of learning how to listen, I found a few things to be very helpful and wanted to share them with you.
- Set a goal for yourself of becoming a better listener. Write it down.
- Force yourself to allow other people to complete their sentences and pause, before you open your mouth in response. Many times we interrupt and have to have our say instead of listening. Think of the person you are talking with as a container of liquid. You want to get every drop of liquid out of the container before you start to empty yours.
- Get enough rest. It is hard to concentrate and listen when you are tired.
- Prepare your mind to listen by calming it prior to the discussion or presentation. Think of a peaceful place. But don’t go to sleep!
- Make it a goal to listen for ideas during a discussion or presentation. If you are actively seeking ideas from the speaker, your mind will wonder less.
- Consider listening a form of entertainment that just might bring you joy. Listen for the funny details.
- Try to find nuggets of information you can use for future tweets, presentations, blog posts, etc.
- Make eye contact with the speaker as often as possible. This will force you to pay attention.
- Don’t get distracted. Make it a game to see how long you can focus on the speaker. Keep trying to improve your time. This includes looking at electronic devices. Turn them off and hide them.
Once you have mastered the art of listening, you will remember things much better.You will realize how improved your relationships are. Many people may need more of your attention, more of your listening. You will understand people better by being a good listener. Listening skills make you a better person, a better boss, and a better employee.
With a holiday weekend coming up and lots of family events, this will be a great time to listen carefully.
So here is a little challenge: Try my tips for a week and see if you can notice a difference!