March is Listening Awareness Month. How do you rate yourself as a listener? Statistically we are a nation of poor listeners. In fact, according to the International Listening Association, we only retain about half of what we hear immediately after we hear it, and only about 20% beyond that. That’s pretty sad.
Imagine what life would be like if we were all able to boost our ability to listen. What if we retained 75% of what we heard immediately after hearing it and 50% long term?
- We would be more productive because we’d spend less time trying to recall what we can’t remember.
- We would make fewer mistakes and improve our work quality.
- There would likely be fewer arguments.
- Relationships…business and professional…would be stronger.
- We would be more compassionate of others.
Listening is one of the most vital parts of successful communication. Many times, it seems that it’s all too easy to get caught up in the sound of our own voices and forget to be quiet and hear what others have to say.
Seven rules to help you become a better listener:
- Don’t think about what you’re going to say next.
- Concentrate on memory triggers to assist your recall.
- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes so you get a deeper understanding of where they’re coming from and what is driving them to say what they’re saying.
- Use inviting body language, such as making eye contact, uncrossing your arms, and turning your shoulders so you’re facing the person speaking.
- Practice active listening by nods and affirmative words to encourage the speaker.
- Stop talking, doing all other things, and don’t interrupt.
- When it’s your turn to talk, summarize and repeat what you heard.