By Bigg Success Staff
Listening attentively is one of the single most important skills you can develop. You’ll build deeper relationships much more quickly. You’ll learn more about a variety of subjects than you can imagine. You’ll also uncover opportunities that help you move onward and upward.
But listening is hard work!
We don’t think of it that way, but it is. Listening is a habit. Like many good habits, it doesn’t happen naturally.
So here’s a way to develop the habit of listening attentively:
Focus on asking follow-up questions
When you let someone else speak, you make them feel important. When you ask relevant follow-up questions, you make them feel even more important.
You send the message that you really are listening. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to come up with a good question!
You also reinforce that you really are interested in what he or she is saying. Why would you extend the conversation if that weren’t the case?
But focusing on asking follow-up questions serves an even more important role – it forces you to listen attentively.
As we mentioned earlier, you can’t form pertinent questions if you aren’t listening carefully to what is being said.
But we won’t kid you … it’s still a hard habit to develop. So here are 3 tips to make this part of your communication arsenal:
It’s not just about the words
Sure the words being spoken are important. But there are other cues for which you should be alert. For example, if you’re talking to someone in-person, pay attention to body language, facial expressions, and voice inflections. Your question very well may come not from what they said, but how they said it.
One of the reasons we don’t listen as well as we should is because our brain is busy thinking about what we’re going to say once the other person quits talking. Get over this by providing yourself a one-word cue for your question. Then all you have to do is “cue” your brain when the other person finishes his or her thought.
For example, assume you're talking to a friend abut his new car. He tells you that he can get into it and start it without keys. He then shows you the sunroof. You've put the word "keys" in cue – repeating it several times in your head – until he stops talking. Then you ask how the key system works.
Practice, practice, practice
Like any good habit, listening attentively won’t happen overnight. Make it a point to practice your new craft – ask good follow-up questions in every conversation you have for at least the next two weeks. By then, you should be a pro!
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(Image by calchan)