Studies have concluded that 70 percent of the average day is spent in communicating. However, only 10 percent of that communicating is done in writing: therefore, the rest is verbal. Also, it has been discovered that most people speak at a rate of 125 words per minute and that people can absorb or process words at a rate of 400-500 words per minute. The question becomes what do we do with that extra capacity to listen?
Since gathering information and connecting with people are important dimensions of leadership it seems only smart to always be looking for ways to improve the skills of listening and questioning. Remember what I have said before: “A masterful coach is a person builder and value developer…who enters into a trusted relationship with the intent of making a positive difference in helping other’s to improve their ability to listen, confront issues, problem solve and perform up their full potential”. .
Listening Habits or Mannerisms to Avoid
- Prejudging the subject or speaker
- Criticizing the speaker or manner of delivery
- Getting over-stimulated about the subject and therefore getting ahead of the speaker or not remaining objective
- Attempting to be “too” complete in taking notes
- Audience distractions – causing them or being part of them
- Letting personal prejudices get between you and the material “hot buttons”
- Not paying attention to the speaker
Positive Listening Habits
- Evaluate the message for its pertinence to you and your job
- Try to detect a central message and avoid getting “hung-up”
- Avoid or overcome distractions
- Maintain emotional control
- Use extra listening capacity to anticipate where the speaker is going
- Focus on how the message fits or contradicts your ideas and thoughts
“A masterful coach is a sounding board and person …who enters into a trusted relationship with the intent of making a positive difference in helping other’s to improve their ability to listen, confront issues, problem solve and perform up to their full potential”. Mark W. Hardwick, Ph.D.
Active listening is only half of the communication process. The other half is the art of effective questioning. As a good questioner you show interest and are demonstrating the “golden rule” of listening: MMFI (Make Me Feel Important). You will encourage people to more fully develop their answers and this will provide you invaluable information and insight. Setting your concerns and self-interest aside and “being there” in the “here and now” with the other person is rare and powerful. If you are truly listening you not only hear the words, but also the emotions, fears and issues of the other person. This provides a unique bond of empathy and an opportunity to learn from others.
CPR Technique for better understanding and personal connections
Ask questions to check your understanding of the meaning of the person’s words or ask person to clarify by telling you more… use open-ended questions.
- Please tell me more about that issue….
- “When you say __________, what exactly do you mean?”
In your own words repeat or restate what you think the other person said.
- “Let me see if I understand you correctly…”
- It seems to me, if I understand you correctly, that you want to find a new job. Have got it right?
Use reflection to display empathy and to check your perception of the person’s emotions. There are two components of reflection:
- Tentative statement (“It appears that you are overwhelmed with forms”)
- Attempt to identify the feeling (“You’re frustrated with…”) Identify the feeling being expressed, if you are wrong the person will set you straight.
Additional Active Listen Tools
Tune out distractions. Concentrate. Look the person in the eye and turn toward them to clearly communicate your interest in what they are saying. Do not multitask when talking with others.
Give the person time to collect their thoughts and continue. Use non-verbal cues to demonstrate your receptivity.
Recap the key points of the discussion and agreed-upon actions.
- “Here is what we have talked about…”
- Why don’t you summarize what we have agreed to do out in the field with the sales reps.
Please try these tools out and let me and the other coaches know on how they workout for you. I would also appreciate any and all changes or other ideas.