Active Listening

Gerri and I had a great conversation about focus after she read yesterday’s blog. We agreed that one of the most important times to be able to focus is when communicating. This reminded me of what I call active listening.

Truly focusing on what someone is saying can be difficult. Your mind wanders (or sometimes flies) off on tangents. Something someone says reminds you of something else and you are gone or worse yet, you simply become bored and away you go. I believe listening is the most difficult communication skill to master. That’s why we need to employ active listening.

In your conversations for the rest of the day try to:
• truly concentrate on the person who is speaking
• listen to every word
• think about what they are saying
• avoid thinking about your answers or the next point you want to make; just listen, your turn will come when it comes
• listen to their voice, hear the inflections
• look directly at them, watch their body language

Try to receive all of their communication. Now smile at them and try to let your mind and body respond to what they are saying. That isn’t an excuse to let your mind wander off. Stay focused on what they are saying. Just let yourself respond naturally while maintaining your focus. I think you will be amazed at what this does to the quality of your communication and how the people you are interacting with respond.

Remember I said this is hard, it is an art. Without practice, we aren’t used to truly listening. Now once you have practiced this for the day, take it with you into tomorrow.