Learning to listen effectively well is a skill well worth the small effort in self-discipline that it takes to perfect it. Hearing is automatic, but listening requires a purposeful decision to be open and fully attentive as you do it.
Being a good listener has many benefits. This is especially true at work, but consider how family and social relationships could also be improved as you were to acquire great listening skills.
People who listen effectively are more productive, make better partners and colleagues, are better problem solvers, and have healthier interpersonal relationships.
There are some other, less obvious, benefits too. For example, purposeful listening actually helps with stress management, boosts confidence, builds rapport, and helps engender trust.
Who’d have thought it! Learning to be an effective listener has all-round benefits, and there are no losers.
When you decide to listen well
The first step to becoming a better listener is to eliminate poor listening habits. Then comes developing an open attitude and practising positive listening skills. You’ll reap the benefits and avoid the potential listening black-spots.
It’s surprising that so many people spend time and effort focussing on things like time-management, communicating skills, or conflict resolution, but they overlook this core skill listening. To be fair, apart from conflict resolution and courses related to counselling, most never mention how important it is to listen well.
Effective listening is learnable, and it underpins many of the other skill-sets which people worry about. Effective listening produces better understanding which eases tension, helps the speaker to relax, and though you might not expect it, helps them think more clearly too! This results in easier collaborations and more fulfilling relationships.
As you move from average listening – which is what most of us do most of the time – to becoming a great listener, you’ll soon begin to notice the following, tangible benefits:
- Improved relationships and cooperation – people respond better to someone whom they perceive listens intently to their needs. People are more likely to pay attention to you, if you start by paying close attention to them.
- Greater trust – Authentic listening builds rapport between people, as it fosters respect and trust between speaker and listener.
- Problem-solving – Two minds are better than one. When you listen effectively you encourage collaboration so that solutions to problems can be generated more easily and discussed before being put into action.
- A cooler head – Listening intently reduces tension and helps both sides to stay cool. This is particularly important when you are discussing a sensitive topic or handling a crisis.
- Boosted confidence – People who listen well tend to have better self-esteem and self-image because active listening helps to build positive relationships.
- Briefer conversations – Good listening leads to understanding and accuracy. It reduces misunderstandings and mistakes, and both sides tend to remember conversations better.
When you listen effectively it reflects well on you, the listener. As you can see, the benefits goes way beyond simply being nice or attentive to the speaker. As your competence as a listener grows, so will your confidence, and you can reap whole range of other benefits.