It's hard to believe it's a decade since I did a Certificate in Counselling Skills. Back then, I was sure I wanted to eventually train as a counsellor. While that dream has since faded, that course has stood me in good stead ever since.
Tomorrow, I'm going to do a short little training slot with a group of business people on how to listen, so people that people talk. It'll only be 5 minutes long, but the exercise I learned in 2006 is that powerful, I don't need any longer.
The exercise involves being listened to attentively and genuinely for 30 seconds, and then being listened to inattentively. Experiencing both situations is a powerful lesson, and shows the importance of listening.
Genuine listening, listening to understand the other person, is one of the greatest tools of communication. Listening is about understanding the other person, and making sure you understand them. Genuine listening requires awareness and focus. Awareness is that you catch yourself thinking of how to respond or if you're wondering what to have for dinner. Focus is bringing that awareness to the other person and what they're telling you.
In business relationships, whether it's with other business owners, suppliers or customers, genuine listening is invaluable. It's not just about gathering and understanding information. Genuine listening is an act of respect and service to the other person. It's also an act of respect and service to yourself. By genuinely listening, you give yourself a chance to improve your relationships with other people, and to learn something new about people, or to deepen your existing understanding of them.
So here are tips for on how to be a good listener:
1. Eyes are on the speaker.
2. Brain is focusing on what the other person is thinking.
3. Ears listen carefully.
4. Mouth is quiet.
5. Hands are still.
6. Feet are still.
Every good conversation starts with good listening!
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