To be a successful leader, you need to be able to listen to your team, hearing what they say, what they don't say, and what they really mean. That's what makes "listening one of the most difficult skills on the planet," Nicole Lipkin, author of What Keeps Leaders Up At Night, tells us. "It's very hard to stop your mind from wandering ... there are a lot of reasons why it's so hard for us. You can always tell when someone's not giving you their complete attention," Lipkin says. "Most of us in the workplace are so overwhelmed with things to do—instant messaging, phones ringing. I mean, our brain can only tolerate so much information before it snaps."
Stop interrupting. This will be hard to do, but try not to finish the other person's sentence. You often do this because you think you know what the other person is thinking, but this isn't always true. In fact, it's often not true. "Our brains are designed to share what we want to hear," Lipkin says. "We'll look for information that supports what we want to see and hear and ignore everything else. Turn off the voice in your head that constantly makes assumptions, judges the speaker and contemplates what you will say next. Don't finish the other person's sentences or interrupt their train of thought," she adds.
Listen for feelings. Since listening is so difficult to do, most of us will listen as little as we can. We're satisfied getting by with the basics. But the most successful people are able to listen for feelings. "People do not always express their feelings or concerns directly, especially to their bosses. Pay attention to words that express feelings or needs and to nonverbal behaviors that may reflect how someone feels," Lipkin says. If you achieve this skill, you have "referent power right here," she says. You will be able to influence others and gain their trust because they feel like they've been heard. "It makes you feel closer to people when they have listened to you. You're more willing to work with the person," she adds.
Repeat what you heard back to the person. You should always paraphrase what you think the person said by saying something like, "This is what I think I heard ... it sounds like you're concerned that you're not going to meet that deadline. Paraphrasing helps you check for accuracy and understanding. Clarify any emotion you think you saw the person express in their verbal expressions or body language," Lipkin says. You should also take note of the person's tone of voice, because often people will say one thing that seems angry, but they're actually not. Sometimes this is a cultural thing.
Acknowledge what the person said. This is where you tell the person what you think after acknowledging the person's contribution. Lipkin advises not to criticize what they say, but be genuinely honest about your opinions. This is how you build a relationship. You should pay close attention to any changes in body language or emotion after you've given your opinions. "Acknowledge anything you have noticed and check for accuracy". Listening is an active skill—one you need to cultivate. "It makes things so much easier when everyone is on the same page," Lipkin says.
I've learned that simply listening can be more helpful than the best advice I might give. Many of us equate listening with problem-solving, and we don’t even realize it. We believe that when someone shares a problem, the best response is to help them find a solution. Do you know how to REALLY listen? ... to listen without feeling responsible to help the person find a solution?
The best way to listen is with your mouth shut. If you're talking, you're not listening. While you’re listening, pay attention to how what you hear affects you – not what you think about it, but how you are personally affected.
When it’s time to respond, consider your intention before you speak. Whose needs are you meeting? Are you trying to look smart? ... to be appreciated? Or is your intention genuinely to support the other person and to share your sense of connection? Connection and compassion are the greatest responses, the greatest gift you can give. And often, that requires no words at all.
In this age of high-tech communications, do people really listen to the spoken word anymore? With the popularity of emails, texting, faxing, instant messaging, answering machines, automated phone calls and social networking sites, are verbal communications being affected in a negative way because of all this modern, communication technology?
As we have progressed into such a technical age, are we beginning to lose the human touch? Is our human interacting, also known as, one on one, or face to face, becoming passe'? It is uncommon in these modern times to place a phone call and hear a live voice spoken. Customer service is now a series of prompts by pressing keys on our telephones to lead us to the prompt which will give us all the information we are seeking. Occasionally we press prompts that lead us to a representative who is there to help, but too often they have heavy foreign accents which often makes it difficult to communicate with ease.
Because of so many technical communication methods in our lives today, talking face to face has disappeared in many areas of our lives. There was a time when communication was done only through face to face encounters, telephone calls, or through someones own handwriting. Today, picking up the telephone to chat with a friend, dropping a handwritten note, or stopping in to visit a friend just to say hi, is becoming uncommon. Instead it is more common today for people to drop a quick email, or pop in on their social networking sites to say hi to a friend, it is possible now days to send a friend an e-card, you can even send a friend a hug via cyberspace. What on earth ever happened to the days of giving real hugs in person?
Not only is modern, communication technology affecting face to face communications of life, it is also effecting our listening skills. The is nothing listen to or to hear in an e-mail, or on a social network page, nor is there anything to hear in instant messages. We do not have to listen to get the message that is given we just need to see it.
Listening is strongly linked to processing information in our brain, hearing facts spoken, or directions given for example will stimulate our brain to recall the information it has gathered from a verbal conversation. For example take a written text message with the same message spoken in a conversation, the text will contain abbreviated words, and letters to represent words, it is basically a new language for the new world of communication technology. Much fact and detail would be omitted from this type of communication because these forms of communication are not detailed in the way a verbal communication would be. Our brain will absorb and remember the basics of the message but in it, there will be less brain stimulation than we would have with verbal conversation.
With the spoken word though listening, our brain grasps onto the words and details we hear, stimulating many different areas of our brain. Hearing someone speak to us, we can hear different tones, and emotions which trigger action in our brain and we absorb what is being said so that we will remember it. The information that we gather from listening is stored in the memory bank of our mind, because we have stimulated it to do so.
In our computer communications the messages we read do not stimulate the brain in the same way that verbal communication does and therefore the information does not get logged into our minds, because they are logged into our computer and messaging devices which will remember it for us and we can refer back our message devices to recall the information whenever we need to.
How does all this effect face to face conversations and listening? One of the main effects it seems is quite often now days, people talk over people. One person not listening to another, but each person speaking what is on their minds at the same time. Often we hear people cut off someone else who is speaking so that they can say what they need to.
People love to talk, but because of communication technology as it is today people do not talk one on one as they once did. Everyone wants to be heard and because of the lack of verbal communication in our everyday life once they start talking they do not realize that they are not listening. Because of all this society's listening skills are suffering for it and our minds are being impoverished by it.
In the art of conversation it was once proper not to speak while someone else was speaking, today however, it seems that courtesy is no longer common practice in verbal communications.
All too often we hear people interrupting others who are speaking, or people raising their voices to speak over others, so that they might be heard. Interrupting and speaking over others was once thought to be rude, disrespectful and annoying, it was not acceptable. Today, it is still rude, disrespectful and annoying although society no longer pays attention to rules of etiquette. In short, it seems that listening is no longer popular and unfortunately, like a lot of good old things, listening it seems has gone out of style.
Stow your chivalry and split the tab, sport. The average cost of six dates will run you $1,198 in New York City, $823 in L.A., and $736 in Chicago. On the plus side, it will cost less on your conscience than hiring a hooker. The average U.S. renter is worth less than $5,000, while the average homeowner is worth more than $180,000. Get a loan, buy a place, and tell your landlord to keep the security deposit on your apartment as last month's rent. Then moon him.
The average American male is buried under $2,369 of credit card debt. Chipping away at the balance with $100 monthly payments at 17.5 percent interest will take 30 months and cost an extra $560 in interest. Check it out: You just pissed a big-screen TV up against the fence!
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