Learning How to Listen
As a business owner, you’re probably used to taking charge and being a leader day after day. But sometimes, part of being a great leader is knowing when to stop and listen.
Your customers come to you because you are an expert in your field, and they have a problem that they believe you can solve. When you take the time to stop and really listen, you can build stronger relationships with your clients, build their trust in you and your company, and learn more about what they are struggling with so that you can position your company to become the best solution on the market.
When employees don’t feel valued or heard, morale and productivity will suffer. Foster an enjoyable work environment by taking the time to sit down and really listen to the questions and concerns your employees have. After all, they’re the true heart of the business and know how it functions day-to-day from the inside. It’s likely that they’ll have useful feedback that can help you improve processes and make the business run more smoothly and efficiently.
Learning How to Listen: How to Develop Your Listening Skills
Almost everyone could benefit from making a conscious effort to listen better. Check out the following four steps to develop your active listening skills
When someone is listening, put all of your focus on them. In this day and age, it’s easy to get distracted by electronics and other things going on around us, but active listening requires that you put 100 percent of your focus on the speaker.
- Be encouraging.
Act interested in what the speaker is telling you by employing positive body language and demonstrating to the person that they have your full attention.
- Ask questions.
When the speaker is finished, ask follow-up questions to ensure that you understand their message completely. Try to frame the questions so that the conversation stays centered on the speaker
- Repeat their points.
Without adding your opinions in, summarize what the speaker told you in your own words, emphasizing the point that you believe they were trying to make to ensure that you’ve understood.
In addition to the steps above, remember these tips while you are actively listening:
• Smile! (Even when you’re on the phone)
• Minimize distractions
• Be confident in your abilities
• Speak slowly and clearly
• Provide verbal and nonverbal feedback (nod, smile, etc.)
• Do not interrupt the speaker
When you listen, the ultimate goal should be to understand the speaker. Don’t worry about anything else—because if you understand someone and they feel heard, everything else will fall into place.