Can you hear me?
by Saskia Snyders
5 STEPS TO ENHANCE ACTIVE LISTENING
THE LISTENING DILEMMA
– We speak at a rate of 150 words per minute.
– We can hear at a rate of approximately 1000 words per minute.
This gives us a lot of extra time! What do we do with this time?
(Source: Peter R. Garber)
Communication plays such an integral part of our professional and personal life. Whether it is talking, reading, writing or watching, we communicate constantly through different mediums. Yet, often we feel that we are not being heard; that our messages are not getting through to the right people; or that we, ourselves, often catch ourselves thinking about a response whilst the other person is still communication – therefore, possibly, missing out on vital information.
Through hundreds of coaching sessions, it is evident that there is a definite need for Stephen Covey’s third habit for highly effective people: Understand before being understood. And, to understand completely, one has to actively listen to the other parties. This includes listening for those things that are not said. Once we cultivate a communicative habit of attunement, as described by Dr Daniel Goleman in his study on Social Intelligence, we can and will have the power and information to positively influence interpersonal interactions.
Communication is an art form. At The IE Group, we understand that every person communicates in their own, individual style. Like art, communication can take on unlimited forms and variations. Each person colours and adds texture to their communication by infusing their message with their personality and frame of reference. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” When we are actively listening, we are listening for those colours, textures and styles that are unique to the individual.
Five tips to enhance active listening:
1. BE PRESENT
Being present means that you are focused solely and completely on the task or person at hand. To be present and listening often requires more energy than talking. It requires that let go of you frame of reference, your plans for the rest of the day, where you will go for dinner, or the worries that you were thinking about before the interaction. Therefore, focus on the person with whom you are communicating. Practise eliminating emotional and environmental noise. Enjoy the opportunity to see the world from a different perspective.
2. Maximise your use of sincere eye contact. This will not only assist you to connect with the other person, it also allows you to see and read the person’s non-verbal messages. Therefore, you will be able to see and, eventually, interpret the meaning behind the message. 55% of communication interpretation is based on the non-verbal messages.
3. Use Strategic Question strategies. The person with the questions is the person with the power of influence as that person can guide and direct the interpersonal interaction. A great question usually stimulates a great answer. There are several different types of questions that can be used depending on the person with whom you are communicating.
4. Understand that the person’s responses will be right, true and relevant for them. Do not judge them or their responses. Rather, use questions to understand their thinking and why they feel the way they do.
5. Stay curious.
For more detailed tips and practical application of communication skills, please contact us at The IE Group where we will listen to your needs.