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6 Steps to Being a Better Listener

Have you ever been in a conversation with another person whom you know is not really listening to what you are saying? Think for a moment about how you know they are not listening to you. It could be their body language or the blank look in their eyes. Perhaps their eyes are scanning the room or they might even be starting to answer you before you have finished your sentence. The point is you know when you are not being listened to and it can be frustrating and irritating!

For some, not listening or not hearing what is being said serves a purpose in their life. Whether it's their boss who is saying something they don’t want to hear or a coworker whom they feel doesn't know enough to be offering information, they just choose to not listen. Sometimes they just don't want to hear what is being said so they can avoid being put in a position of accepting or taking action on what they heard.

If good listening skills are so valuable then why are so many of us poor listeners? The first thing is to understand that we are not born "good" listeners. It is a skill that can and should be cultivated and honed. While it does take work, with some coaching you can improve your listening skills dramatically. Good listening starts with a genuine interest in the other person and what they have to say. Good listening is asking the right questions and then listening with an open mind to the answers. Here are some more tips to help you excel as a listener:

    1. Use your whole body to "hear". That includes your face, your eyes, and the position of your body.
    2. Listen patiently. People think faster than they speak. Give them the time they need to express their thoughts.
    3. Hear them out before you start judging their words or speaking yourself.
    4. Listen to nonverbal messages. Many messages are communicated nonverbally by tone of voice, facial expressions, energy level, or posture.
    5. Ask questions to clarify the information you have heard.
    6. Give feedback. Look directly at the speaker. Now and then nod to show that you understand. At appropriate points you may also smile, frown, laugh, or remain silent.

These are all ways to let the speaker know that you are really listening. Remember, you listen with your face and the rest of your body as well as your ears! Apply these tips to become a better listener to improve your career and your life.

About Trignano Consulting, LLC:

Linda Trignano is focused on helping individuals and teams improve their communication style both personally and professionally. A coach & consultant with over 25 years of experience in a corporate environment, Trignano offers client support in training and team facilitation. As a distributor for the DiSC assessment suite of products, Linda Trignano’s firm is focused on helping companies more effectively handle their people related needs by working collaboratively with clients to find solutions that work for everyone. She is able to quickly and cost effectively implement change that improves productivity. You can reach us at www.trignanoconsulting.com or by calling 973-722-9961.

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5 Steps to Enhancing Your Vocal Image

Remember the old adage - it’s not what you say, but how you say it? I believe it’s both what you say and how you say it – confidently and with impact that will have others really listening.

I’m often in business or networking meetings where the attendees are asked to introduce themselves. A handful of participants will unwittingly miss a great opportunity to promote themselves or their ideas by speaking so low that they can’t be heard. When they speak they do not project confidence and therefore do not have much impact. It’s important to manage your image and personal brand and your voice is one tool that you can use to your advantage. It can help you leave your listeners with a positive impression of you.

Most of us focus on what we say (the words) rather than how we say it when communicating. The quality of our voice is one of the most important elements in how we come across. Speaking is a powerful way to communicate and reveal our thoughts, ideas and beliefs and most of us need to focus on how our voice sounds and ways to improve it.

Our voice is as unique to us as our fingerprints and is comprised of many facets such as tempo, volume, rate of speech and pitch. When speaking, we hear our voice through our internal ear. This happens because of the way sound travels to our inner ear and picks up vibrations inside the body. The combination of these two things makes up the voice we hear when we talk. In general we hear a fuller, deeper sound than our listeners hear. That’s why many of us don’t like hearing a recording of our own voice because the voice we hear sounds tinnier and higher or just plain different to us. We inevitably say, “ I don’t like how I sound”!

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3 Communication Tips for Better Customer Service

Customer Service Words

Let me share a recent experience one of my colleagues related to me that really drove home the point of how good internal and external communications are essential to good customer service. Here’s the story he told me. He said:

At the urging of my dashboard light telling me to take my car in for an oil change and tire pressure check, I headed down the road. Call me optimistic, but I believed the service representative when she told me the car check-up would only take the usual 30 or 40 minutes. I had been to the service center many times and their “express service” never disappointed me before. No appointment necessary she said, “Just come in and we’ll have you out in no time”.

So in I went. Upon my arrival, the necessary service forms were completed and I handed over my keys and settled down to catch the latest news on the television in the waiting area. After 45 minutes, I checked on my car’s progress. “They are working on it” was the response. Another 45 minutes later and I made another check. “They are doing a computer update” was the response this time.

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