Listening, one of the most basic and uncontrollable abilities humans have, can turn into a challenging task in a world characterized by stimuli overload—a world like the one we live in. New devices and platforms that entered our life to make communication easier and quicker created a situation in which we are always available for communication, but we are often not fully engaged in it.
In recent years, engagement has become a buzzword used mainly to describe companies’ efforts to create and maintain consumers’ interest online. Although it is also relevant in this context, engagement has a much broader meaning.
In today’s business world, the importance of face-to-face engagement to the success of any business process between companies and their clients, suppliers, and partners is often forgotten. But it shouldn’t be, especially in the case of SMBs, which are known to offer that personal touch people long for.
Achieving that feeling of engagement between the two sides communicating has a lot to do with listening skills. Listening, as a part of interpersonal communication, involves verbal and non-verbal gestures aimed at proving to the speaker that the listener is engaged and interested in what the speaker has to say.
That’s why this post will focus on giving you tips on how to be a better listener.
Eliminate Distractions: When you get into a business meeting, you usually silence all your devices and put away your papers and bag, but in many cases you continue to check your devices throughout the meeting. Controlling the urge to check your emails, take something out of your bag, shift through papers, and so on, is important in order to show the other side that you’re engaged. That one short email you couldn’t resist sending could damage a business relationship. It is important to maintain eye contact and give signals to let the speakers know you’re involved the conversation at all times.
Ask Questions: Improve the conversation by asking thought-provoking questions that show your interest and understanding. These questions will not only deepen and enrich the interaction, but will also create a “feel-good” atmosphere, clarifying that you are both on the same page.
Practice: If you know you have a hard time being a good listener, staying engaged, and showing your interest, you have to practice. Use familial and social interactions to work on these skills. Also, ask your family and friends for feedback. In these settings, you can even take a video of yourself practicing and watch it afterward to learn from your mistakes.
I know these tips are pretty intuitive, but I think we often forget how important they are in any communication, inside and outside our businesses. I hope this post was a good reminder.