Listening is a broad term used to refer to complex affective, cognitive, and behavioral processes. Effective processes include the motivation to attend to others; cognitive processes include attending to, understanding, receiving, and interpreting content and relational messages; and behavioural processes include responding with verbal and nonverbal feedback.
Listening differs from obeying. Parents may commonly conflate the two, by telling a disobedient child that he “didn’t listen to me”. A person who receives and understands information or an instruction, and then chooses not to comply with it or to agree to it, has listened to the speaker, even though the result is not what the speaker wanted.
Listening isn’t the same as hearing someone speak. And it’s not as natural or automatic as many people think. In fact, most of us make mistakes when listening to others. For instance, “we might be more concerned with being heard and voicing our own perspective” according to Mudita Rastogi, Ph.D, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Illinois.
Listening is one of the most important skills you can have. How well you listen has a major impact on your job effectiveness, and on the quality of your relationships with others. For instance:
We listen to obtain information.
We listen to understand.
We listen for enjoyment.
We listen to learn.
Given all this listening we do, you would think we’d be good at it! In fact most of us are not, according to Mudita Rastogi, Ph.D, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Illinois. we remember between 25 percent and 50 percent of what we hear. That means that when you talk to your boss, colleagues, customers or spouse for 10 minutes, they pay attention to less than half of the conversation.
The popularity of social media has taught us that people like to be heard, and the same holds true for employees and customers. The trouble is, many small-business owners don’t know how to effectively listen. Much of the problem lies in the fact that small-business owners receive little to no training in the art of listening, says Chris Majer, author of The Power to Transform: Passion, Power, and Purpose in Daily Life
According to the International Listening Association, more than 35 studies indicate that listening is a top skill needed for success in business, yet less than 2 percent of all professionals obtain training to improve listening skills,” Majer says. “Listening isn’t taught in any business school, and there are few listening courses available to companies.
Overlooking the importance of effective listening can have costly consequences. “Companies lose billions annually,” Majer says. “Listening is an active interpretation that shapes our realities, and it’s the answer to improving employee productivity and increasing business with customers.”
Listening is also the key to managing the mood in a company. “A lack of listening can result in degenerative moods among employees, including mistrust, resignation and resentment,” Majer says.
whereas employees who feel listened to experience improved mood fueled by ambition and confidence, which boosts productivity and ultimately profitability. As business owners find themselves dealing with increasingly informed customers thanks to the explosion of technology, it becomes even more critical that they truly listen.
All product information and pricing is available on the Web, which means that a small-business owner’s competitive advantage is no longer found in lower prices. Instead, the advantage is in customer service, and the essence of customer service is listening. When you really listen to customers and take their concerns seriously, they’re happy to do business with you, even if your prices are a bit higher.
Bellow are 7 Tips to Master the Art of Listening:
Clear your mind.
Check in with your own internal feelings, assumptions and mindset. Ask yourself if you are really ready to listen. How do you expect this conversation to go? How would you feel about this? For instance, you might think that you’ll be frustrated, But try to keep an open mind. While you’ve been frustrated in the past, this time might be different. Put your assumptions aside, and listen for new or different information.
Ask open-ended questions.
For instance, instead of asking, “So did you do what I suggested?” say: “Tell me what you decided to do.” Instead of “Are you upset?” ask: “How do you feel about this?” Instead of “Can you do it this way?” ask: “How shall we tackle this problem?” And instead of “So did you go to college?” say: “Tell me more about yourself.”
Attend to your own nonverbal cues.
You don’t just listen with your ears. You listen with your entire body. Make eye contact. Lean forward. Eliminate distractions by putting your phone away and turning off the TV. “Tune into their body language. Nod in affirmation.”
Confirm your understanding.
Listen, and then relay it back to the speaker to clarify if you have understood them correctly. Confirm whether they felt heard. Ask the other person if they felt like you listened and really heard what they were saying.
Consider the written word.
If it is an emotion-laden topic, write down your part, take notes when the other person talks, or send an email. Don’t interrupt. Don’t jump in with solutions (this one can be a hard one in my experience). Just be present in the moment and listen fully to what the other person has to say and let him or her speak until the entire message is said.
Take a breather.
When all else fails, take a break, a time out helps you come back with a fresh ear. Few things make it so hard to follow along in a conversation as a tired and foggy head. Two things that can keep that energy and mental clarity up are to open a window or to take a walk outside to get both some exercise and some fresh air.
Be honest about your current limitations.
If you’re in a rush or feel very tired or stressed out let the other person know. If you have listened for long while and your mind has hit its limit and starts to wander and you need a break and maybe