When we assess the communication skills of leaders and managers, listening is typically a much weaker competency than speaking.
Yet when it comes to teams, we have learned that listening is the more valued competency--good listeners are perceived as more trustworthy and have greater influence than good speakers.
To increase your listening skills and convince the speaker that you understand them beyond a shadow of a doubt, practice the following three steps:
- Postpone Your Own Agenda: Fight the natural urge to react, reply, and frame things from your own perspective. Just focus on listening to the content and the speaker’s views without judgment.
- Hear the Music: Since the majority of our communication is not through words alone, make sure that you listen for the music and the “between the lines” emotions and feelings. Here is where you can find the most valuable nuggets of truth and the real, underlying message.
- Corroborate the Speaker’s Point of View: While you do not have to agree with everything said, you should be able to empathize with and validate what they are saying and feeling based upon their current beliefs and assumptions.