Most of us think we’re good listeners. (We do have ears, after all.) But answer these eight questions and you might be surprised to find you could be better ….
1.Do you give the person speaking your full attention?
Full attention means you’re not looking at your computer or phone. You’re not scanning a folder or some document sitting on your desk. You’re not multitasking.
2. Do you plan your response before the person is finished speaking?
If you’ve jumped ahead and are rehearsing what you’ll say in response, you’ll likely miss part of what the person is saying.
3. Do you jump in with your own experiences and opinion when someone introduces a topic you’re familiar with; or worse, do you try to top their story?
If someone starts telling you about their bad experience with a customer you know, and you jump in before they’re finished, you’re not listening well. Saying “That reminds me of ….” in the middle of the other person’s story can be a bad habit.
4. Do you rush the speaker?
You’re restless. You think you know what the person is going to say, so you look at your watch or say “yep, yep” or “uh-huh, uh-huh” quickly and cut them off. This makes the speaker feel he or she is wasting your time.
5. Do you finish the speaker’s thought?
If you finish someone’s sentence (regardless of how slow they’re talking), you make the speaker feel rushed.
6. Do you look at the person speaking?
Eye contact, a nod, a smile … all convey that you are listening. Slouching or looking over the speaker’s shoulder implies that you’re not interested.
7. Do you ask too many questions?
There’s a fine line between asking a question or two to clarify … and grilling the person talking. Be courteous. They know what they want to share with you.
8. Do you offer advice, even when the speaker hasn’t asked for it?
When someone comes to you, oftentimes they’re not looking for advice. They’re just looking for a friendly ear and a little quiet support. It’s hard not to try to help, but do wait to be asked.
Old habits are hard to break. Here are a couple articles if you need more information on improving your listening: