Someone recently said to me that the biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand, we listen to respond.

It really resonated with me as I know I have been guilty of doing this in the past. I can think of many times that a person has started talking and I immediately start preparing my rebuttal.

According to Mind Tools (2016) we only remember between 25 and 50 percent of anything we hear. The best way to increase this percentage is to practice active listening. Active listening is about not just hearing the words someone is saying but rather making a conscious effort to understand the complete message they are trying to convey.

When I started to actively listen using the tips below I found that I was starting to have better conversations and walk away with a better understanding of the topic being discussed.

So, how can we start to actively listen? Here are some tips that helped me:

  • Look at the person and avoid getting distracted by the environment around you
  • Don’t prepare your rebuttal while they are talking – A good way to avoid this is repeat the words they are saying in your head
  • Wait until they have finished talking before responding
  • Paraphrase what has been said to ensure you have understood
  • When responded be honest, but assert your opinion respectfully

I want to leave you with a quote from Larry King:

I remind myself every morning, nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I am going to learn, I must do it by listening.

Author: Service Skills Academy

Leave a Reply