In our Leadership Development Program, Blanchard Certified we have two lessons on communication and in both we provide examples of bad listening, and they are hilarious, and you almost want to believe that nobody engages in the terrible listening habits we show. But we all do. Every day. Pay attention to your bad listening habits. In the meantime, try on these very basic tips, and I guarantee you will be a better listener overnight.
The number one most effective tool that helps you get present, tune out the static around you and (most importantly?) turn down the noise in your head is to breathe. Long deep breaths in, slow release of breath out. Like you are starting yoga class. Feel your body, release your shoulders, relax your eyes, feel your feet on the floor. Pull yourself out of the swirl of your regular multimedia swamped state and
Stop talking which means Stop interrupting. Stop asking questions that don’t add value. Stop trying to solve the problem to show how smart you are. Stop re-loading with your brilliant arguments. Stop looking for points that will you use to support your own position. Just stop all the stupid crap you do that makes you a terrible listener. Stop and breathe. Just
3. Shut Up.
Did I need to say this? Apparently I did. Shut Up and Listen. That sounds a lot like stop talking, but somehow shut up is easier to remember. Put your hand over your mouth if you have trouble with this one. Shut Up and
4. Pay Attention.
What? Really? Yes. Pay attention to what is really being said, what is not being said, what is really important to person speaking, what the person might really want from the conversation. Listen to learn something you don’t know, with your hand conveniently located over your mouth you can use your eyes to watch the face and body of the person speaking – try it, it is amazing what you can find out.
5. Tell Your Face.
Whatever you might say to interrupt, your face can share with the speaker. You don’t have to open your mouth to say “wow!”, “cool”, “what?” or “I am so sorry” Tell your face that you are interested and engaged. Your face will be worth so much more than whatever words are trapped behind your hand.