Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills
Regardless of what industry you’re in, there are numerous critical skills that are required to be successful in business. Many people will rush to make sure they are adept in hard skills like marketing, accounting, and production, while those areas are no doubt important, too many business owners overlook just how critical soft skills can be.
Key soft skills you should be sure to hone, refine, and perfect in business are your listening skills. Whether it’s in your dealings with customers, employees, competitors, contractors, or anyone else, being skilled at listening actively and thoroughly can make all the difference in the world.
If you want to make a conscious effort to focus on and strengthen your listening skills, consider some of the following tips:
Questions and Other Audible Cues
When in any business setting, you’ll be able to provide direct feedback to the other person or people to which you are listening. You may give audible clues that you’re listening and following along (e.g., ‘uh-huh’ and ‘OK), and you can show even further that you’re invested in what you’re hearing by asking clarifying questions that allow the other person to expand on what they’re saying. By engaging in these verbal queues, you’re not only affirming that you’re attentively listening, but you’ll encourage others to continue sharing and diving deeper into the meat of the topic. This aspect of listening skills is especially important in phone conversations where the other person can’t see you.
That said, when you can see the other person, whether that’s in person or even in a video conference call, then body language is a large aspect of listening skills. Maintaining eye contact will demonstrate you’re paying attention. Proper posture will show you’re taking the conversation seriously and are invested. What’s more, giving nonverbal indicators that you’re following along like nodding, taking notes, or even through your facial expressions is vital.
Beyond the importance of sending signals that you’re actively listening, you should also practice making sure you hear out other people. For serious business conversations, go into them with an open mind and a willingness to hear and learn. If you assume you know what the other person wants and aren’t willing to open your mind to listen, your interactions will remain superficial and non-productive.
Listen, Don’t Interrupt
Another key habit of demonstrating to other people in a business setting that you value their time and opinion is to listen rather than talk. Avoid interrupting someone. You may assume you know where someone is going with a train of thought or a request, but when you interrupt, you’re sending loads of signals that your time is too precious to spend listening to them and that you don’t value hearing them out. As such, it’s always a great rule of thumb to try to listen more than you talk.
Prospering in a business setting requires many different skills and constant growth. Fine-tuning your listening skills is chief among these important skills, so don’t overlook them. If you want to discuss the importance of various business skills, whether hard or soft, reach out to the professionals at Tobin & Collins today. We’re here.