Active Listening Equals Effective Listening

Recent studies conducted by the International Listening Association illustrated we retain half of what we hear and forget about half of that within 48 hours. We listen at 125-250 words per minute, but think at 1,000-3,000 words per minute. Truly, what kind of impact does effective listening have on your customers, employees and business associates? 

As people become busier and strive to multitask, active listening becomes secondary. If you’re a culprit of non-active listening, you probably do three or more of the following when listening to customers, employees and business associates:

• Finish others thoughts.

• Tolerate or create distractions (i.e. text messaging, check email, doodle, etc.).

• Fake paying attention to what is being said.

• Create early assumptions without keeping an open mind.

• Call the subject uninteresting .

• Criticize the speaker or the topic being discussed.

Here are a few tips to help you develop your active listening skills:

Avoid distractions. Give the speaker your full attention. As people strive to multitask, we tend to answer email through “crackberry” and do things to take us away from listening to the message. 

Keep an open mind. Listen without being quick to judge the speaker delivering the message. Take the time to hear the message being communicated in its entirety.

Paraphrase. Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying. Take notes to capture the main points of what is being said. There is no need to write down word for word. Paraphrasing demonstrates that you comprehend what was said and the speaker delivering the message knows you identify with their message.

Original message: “We received our quarterly invoice which seemed to be 20 percent more than the previous quarter. We have not made any changes in the amount ordered and were suppose to receive a discounted rate based on a promotion presented by your sales team.”

Paraphrased: “I understand that there may be an error in the quarterly billing you received.”

Be patient and quiet your mind. Don’t interrupt and don’t impose your thoughts as this will disturb the speaker. This may seem like a challenge, but try not to finish their statements. Be at ease with silence during conversation. If the speaker pauses, silence allows them to think about what they want to say without the disturbance of voice.

Listen between the lines. Pay attention to what is and especially isn’t said – emotions, facial expressions, gestures, posture and other non-verbal cues. Also, exhibit some non-verbal cues when you’re listening:

• Face the speaker and maintain eye contact.

• Nod to show you understand.

• Have engaging posture.

Just like paraphrasing, it lets the speaker know you are there with them.

In business, listening is an active not passive activity. Practice these tips the next time (every time) you’re listening to a speaker. Now, you have some improved tips to effective listening let me ask you my original question again “What kind of impact does effective listening have on your REVENUES?” 

Active listening … Let’s make it happen!