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If you are like me, your ability to listen fluctuates from being an excellent and attentive listener to being distracted and disinterested. And most of the time, we aren’t fooling anyone – they can tell if we are really listening. I’ve also noticed in myself, that my listening skills tend to fluctuate depending on my biases towards the person I am talking with. You can imagine the pressure I’m under at home when my wife Robin knows that I teach listening skills!
Tips to Be a Better Listener
Take the ‘But’ challenge
One of the mistakes that we make is inserting the word “but” into our sentence which negates our intention of being empathic. For example, “I know you are busy, but I need you to get this done by 3 o’clock.”
The word ‘but’ serves to drive a wedge between the positive statement and your ultimate requests. It is better to either pause… or insert the word ‘and’ in place of ‘but’. For example, “I know you are busy and I was wondering if you can get this done by 3 o’clock?” This subtle change acknowledges the other person’s position and adds you own spin to it. It demonstrates that you were listening. Even if you disagree with what the other person says, it will be more persuasive to acknowledge, add ‘and’ and then restate or reframe your request.
Taking ‘but’ out of your vocabulary is nearly impossible. Reducing its usage will make you a more effective listener and a more persuasive communicator.
Activating today’s Leader Feeder
Identify which one of the listening tips above would help to improve your listening skills and begin to focus on improving yourself in that one area.
Notice the reaction in the people you interact with as they notice your improved listening skills.
Being a better listener will increase the perceptions in others that you are an effective communicator. It helps people feel that they are important to you and to the team. Plus you’ll pick up more ideas for improvement and get greater buy-in to your goals and strategies.
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