Best Practices, Self Improvement

Active Listening

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” -Bryant H. McGill

Communication requires speaking and listening. It’s a dance where effective communication requires the participation of everyone. One of the most difficult parts is active listening. Here’s a quick summary. Take two minutes and watch.

Forbes offers 10 Steps for Effective Listening. The article is from 2012, but still good advice.

  1. Face the speaker, maintain eye contact
  2. Be attentive, but relaxed
  3. Keep an open mind, don’t judge
  4. Listen and picture what is being said
  5. Don’t interrupt or impose your solutions
  6. Wait for a pause to ask clarifying questions
  7. Ask questions to ensure understanding
  8. Try to feel what the speaker is feeling
  9. Give feedback by nodding, reflecting, show some feeling
  10. Pay attention to non-verbal cues

And I will add…

If you are the speaker, give the listener a chance to offer a response or ask a question. Conversations shouldn’t be a one way street.

Best Practices, Education, Learning and Development

Be a Better Communicator

Communication is more than speaking your mind. Being a good communicator is not the same as being a good speaker. A good communicator knows how to listen as well as speak. In fact, listening is one of the most important tasks for effective communication.

It is not enough to just listen to what is being said. It is important to hear as well. Listening is being alert and attentive to the speaker, focusing on what is being said, not how you want to respond. You may not agree with the speaker, and that is OK. However, it is important to understand perspective. A good communicator is open minded enough that they listen and hear what is being said and seek to understand where the other person is coming from. Our experiences shape our views and perspectives. You do not have to agree in order to respectfully communicate!

When responding, think first. Do not say the first thing that comes into your head but instead take a moment and pay close attention to what you say and how you say it. Be clear and direct, get to the point. Being wordy is not beneficial. Try to be specific and deliberate in your response. Say what you mean, and do not make someone try to figure out what you really mean. Do not assume your meaning will be understood. If you are giving instructions, give all of the instructions. Explain the details. You cannot expect someone to achieve the details if you do not set clear expectations. Time frames are also helpful. Saying soon, or within reason, does not help. What is soon or reasonable to one person is not the same to another. When possible, give examples, but keep it relative to the topic. If there are boundaries, state them. If there are not, try to provide parameters, or explain that creative license is acceptable. If expectations are articulated, even if broad, everyone stands a better chance of being happy with outcomes.

If you are on the receiving end of instructions, seek clarification. Reiterate for understanding and remember…listening is key to good communication.

Really, good communication is based in respect.

Live life. Give joy. Be at peace.