Listening is key to success, whether in your personal relationships or at work. But oftentimes it is easy to voice more of our own opinions and talk over others. It is also relatively easy to ignore what others are saying because we have assumptions that we don’t want to challenge. Listening to others seems like it should be something that should be simple. But sometimes we can listen to other people without truly hearing what they are saying. By learning to become a better listener, you will become more empathetic and compassionate. And people with empathy and compassion turn out to be the best leaders, those who are most able to motivate their employees and get the most out of their abilities. Here’s how you can become a better listener and in turn, become a better leader.
Being Respectful Is Critical
We all want to be respected. How would you feel if when you spoke about the project you had spent so much time on in a meeting, everyone ignored you? You probably wouldn’t feel too good about that, and those negative emotions could then lead you to ignore others as well. Negative emotions can lead to more negativity, while respectfulness tends to lead to respectfulness in return. Whether you are in a meeting for work or on a date, make sure that you are actually taking the time to be respectful and listen to the person on the other side. That means body language too—no slouching, looking at your phone, or looking away. Look at the person who is talking and nod in affirmation to let them know you are truly listening.
Don’t Talk More Than You Listen
Talking more than you listen or talking over others is a clear, easy way to signal that you aren’t really hearing the other person. In order to master the art of listening, you need to know when to be silent and when to speak up. You shouldn’t be totally silent—but you should let other people speak and voice their opinions without interrupting them, even if they are speaking about an issue that you might disagree with them on. This is quite difficult for some people, and definitely takes a level of self-control. But this is a key part of being a good listener, and you’ll find that others reciprocate once they are done talking.
Be Willing To Let Go Of Your Assumptions
This one is very important. We all have some level of bias or pre-conceived notions about a given person or situation. Those often cloud our judgement when we listen to them. Being a good listener means throwing out those assumptions and instead giving them a clean slate, listening to what they are actually saying in the moment. This helps to give you a better idea of what is objectively being said. And it also lets the speaker know that you aren’t judging them based on your own biases. Letting go of assumptions is never easy, but in the long run it is tremendously beneficial to both sides.
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