People often confused the word "listening" to the word "hearing". You hear people say many things during a days activities, but are you really listening?
Listening is a talent that can take al life time to master, and it doesn't come naturally. Sure you have ear to hear things, but listening is an art. Listening to people involves not only hearing what they say, but also letting them know that you have understood what they have said by pairing back to them what you "heard".
There are many habits that you have that can prevent you from listening to someone and these habits are especially apparent in people that operate in a high pressured environment, aka us entrepreneurs.
Interrupting someone before they finish talking
This is something I'm personally guilty of and is a very bad habit of mine. When I get into a passionate discussion I can't wait to throw my thoughts into the mix, however this enthusiasm can be a huge barrier to listening. Letting someone finish what they are saying and pausing to really let it sink in, can make the other person feel heard.
Sometimes just counting to 3 in your head while nodding in silence can make someone feel heard.
Changing topics suddenly or moving off topic immediately
Nothing spells out "I want to talk about what I think" then not acknowledging what the other party has said and then quickly moving on to what you talk about. I'm also fairly guilty of this at times. After someone has shared their point of view, taking the time to let it sink and then rephrasing it to show you've understand is a great way to avoid doing this. For example:
Speaker: "Hey I really think that we should do more direct marketing because I feel like it's been a very successful strategy for our new products."
How to reply without listening 1: "Actually I think we should put our budget into banner ads"
How to reply without listening 2: "Oh cool, did you hear about this new app for direct marketing?"
How to reply through listening 1: "Actually yea I can see from last months figures that direct marketing has been really successful. What do you think about putting some money into some banner ads as well? "
How to reply through listening 2: "I saw those figures too, great work by the team right? You know what I found something that could really help you take our direct marketing to the next level. I saw this app..."
Actually listening to the speaker can mean the difference between buying into your idea, and totally rejecting it because they feel unheard and hurt. Although it may take longer to finish the conversation, by making them feel like they've been involved in coming up with the idea also makes it easier to get buy in and gives you what you need from them, which is co-oporation or even driving the project.
Getting buy in by asking for their opinion however still wouldn't work if you skip the part where you spend some time acknowledging and really listening to what they have said.
Forgetting what they have told you before
I'm a serial offender of this since I have a bad memory, but nothing makes you feel more unheard then having someone forget what you told them a couple of days ago. It makes them feel like the whole conversation has been a waste and also makes them hesitate to actually involve you in the future. Whether it means you need to bring a notepad and pen to your meetings or remembering to jot down things or maybe taking the time to really pay attention to the speaker as opposed to trying to formular your next sentence or argument in your head, remembering small details can actually make a huge difference.
The really great networker's of the world can ask questions like "how is your wife Lauren going with her new business" a month after you first met. Or "How is your son Harry and Alex doing with their homework? last time we spoke you told me you were having trouble getting them to finish it".
Remembering these little details bout people, even if you aren't well acquainted can actually draw people to you and make them feel special. Whether it is writing down a few notes after each networking event for yourself to remember there are always ways to get into these good habits even if you aren't naturally born with the gift of memory.
Now it's really great to be aware of our communication habits, because I'm pretty sure there is no one that's perfect. We all make these boo boo's throughout the day and the first step is just being aware of it. Breaking these habits do take time, and what better time to do it then now?
I'd love to hear about any other listening habits that you see happening all the time that make you feel unheard ?