Becoming a Better Listener

How are your listening skills? We all like to think we are good listeners, but if you asked your colleagues, where would you really rate?

I was reading an informative article called “What Great Listeners Actually Do” in Harvard Business Review. They surveyed manager listening performance and looked at the top 5% for what they do to be perceived as better listeners. The article pointed out that the listening norm for the past few years is no longer good enough.
“Much management advice on listening suggests doing these very things – encouraging listeners to remain quiet, nod and ‘mm-hmm’ encouragingly, and then repeat back to the talker something like, ‘So, let me make sure I understand. What you’re saying is…’ However, recent research that we conducted suggests that these behaviors fall far short of describing good listening skills.”

Of course I was doing my happy dance when I read,
       “Level 4: The listener observes nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, perspiration,     respiration rates, gestures, posture, and numerous other subtle body language signals. It is estimated that 80% of what we communicate comes from these signals. It sounds strange to some, but you listen with your eyes as well as your ears.”

In my training, I suggest you take notes on what you observe others doing with their body language. What direction are they leaning or gesturing? How is their tempo changing? How often do they shift in their chair, etc.? These are clues you can look at after the conversation to give you an idea of what to do next.

If you feel “weird” notating those things during the conversation, or if it’s too much multitasking to notate and be an active listener, wait until after the conversation to take notes. If you were actively listening, you should be able to recreate the verbal conversation as well as move your body like your conversation partner. After you have recreated the movement habits in your car or office post meeting, take notes.

In my full MindMoves training, we talk about how to identify decision-making preferences based on the verbal and nonverbal communication you observed. This way, you can pinpoint your follow up conversation or materials to best fit your client or colleague.

To learn how to improve your listening and target your conversation, register for Moving Image’s next Conversion Catalyst MindMoves webinar series starting September 5!