Listening is one of the most important skills you can have and how well you listen has a major impact on almost every area of your life as any social interaction requires effective listening skills.
Let’s explore how this impacts your networking abilities. Have you ever been caught mid-way through a conversation at a networking event, only to lose the person’s interest along with their potential referral partnership?
Unfortunately, you’re not alone. Research suggests that we remember between 25% and 50% of what we hear. Wow! So what do you do? The way to improve your listening skills is to practice “active listening,” where you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but, more importantly, try to understand the complete message being sent.
To do this, start by paying careful attention to the other person. Avoid getting distracted or bored.
To enhance your listening skills, you need to let the other person know that you’re listening to them and sometimes a simple acknowledgement is al it takes. This can be something as simple as a nod of the head or a simple “uh huh.”
Active Listening Tips: There are five key active listening techniques. They all help you ensure that you hear the other person, and that the other person knows you are hearing what they say.
- Pay Attention: Give the speaker your undivided attention, and acknowledge the message. Recognize that non-verbal communication also “speaks” loudly. Ex: nod, avoid distractions.
- Show That You’re Listening: Use your own body language and gestures to convey your attention. Ex: Nod occasionally, smile and use other facial expressions, make sure your posture is open and inviting, Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like “yes,” and “uh huh.”
- Provide Feedback: Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, focus on understanding what’s being said. You may need to reflect and ask questions. Ex: Reflect what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is,” and “Sounds like you are saying,” are great ways to reflect back. Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean when you say.” “Is this what you mean?” or Summarize the speaker’s
- Defer Judgment: Don’t interrupt. It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message.
- Respond Appropriately: Active listening is a model for respect and understanding. Ex: Be candid, open, and honest in your response, assert your opinions respectfully.