Today’s business environment is intrinsically tied together by ongoing information exchanges between two people. This personal communication is most often facilitated by the spoken word. Understanding this information, as it flows within a dialogue between two people is fundamental to improving one’s selling effectiveness. Hence, it is imperative that you are able to maximize your communication skills, especially active listening skills to engage in successful conversations. Here are a few tips to develop effective listening skills.

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Effective Listening Tip 1: Listen Attentively

Active Listening is to listen without interruptions. Lean forward, face the person speaking directly, nod, smile and be agreeable. When you nod and smile, you encourage them to keep speaking and to expand on their remarks.

Initially, it takes tremendous discipline to use effective listening skills, without interrupting someone who is speaking. But over time, as you notice the positive benefits of effective and active listening, you will practice it more and more.

“By practising effective listening skills, you will improve your productivity, as well as your ability to influence, persuade and negotiate.”

Effective Listening Tip 2: Pause Before Replying

Someone once said that, “Most conversation is just waiting.” In most cases, the person listening is not really listening at all. They are preparing their remarks and getting ready for what they are going to say when the other person takes a breath. They then jump in with their own comments, largely ignoring anything the other person has just said.

Instead, switch to active listening by making a habit to pause for three to five seconds before replying. In this three to five second pause, or longer if warranted, you get three benefits:

  1. You avoid the risk of interrupting the speaker if he or she is just reorganizing their thoughts before continuing;
  2. You show the speaker that you are carefully considering what they have just said. This conveys that you value what they have just said, and by extension, you value them, their thinking and their words;
  3. When you pause, you actually hear the other person at a deeper level. You get more of the actual message that is being sent by allowing a few seconds for the message to sink in to a deeper level of your mind.
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Effective Listening Tip 3: Question For Clarification

Instead of jumping in with your own ideas or opinions, pause, take a deep breath and ask a question such as “What do you mean?” or “What do you mean exactly?” By using effective listening skills, you build trust. The better you listen to another person, the more they trust you, and the more open they are to being influenced and persuaded by you.

Effective Listening Tip 4: Feed It Back In Your Own Words

It is only when you can briefly summarize what the other person has just said, in your own words, and feed it back to them, that you tell the speaker that you were genuinely listening.

You have heard of the 80/20 rule. This rule says that 20% of what you do accounts for 80% of the results of everything you do. In motivating employees and working with your team, the 20% of your behaviours that account for 80% of the impact that you make on others is simply “making others feel important.”

When you can do this with everyone in your company, you will make a quantum leap forward in becoming an outstanding employee and get increasingly better results from every person who reports to you or you report to. Active listening is a skill that we can all benefit from. By practising effective listening skills, you will improve your productivity, as well as your ability to influence, persuade and negotiate. What’s more, you’ll avoid conflict and misunderstandings.

All of these are necessary for workplace success, and now you can find helpful courses on betterU that can help you work on your listening skills! Our How To Listen course from Udemy is a first-hand description and experience of the course instructor – a very successful restauranteur from the U.S., and will take you down the journey of active listening – right from its importance, to its implementation!