The Art of Listening in Communication

The Art of Listening in Communication

“If you can listen without judgment, new doors will open for you, expanding your knowledge base and igniting those around you as well” – Bobbie Goheen

As leaders, the ability to maintain an open mind while leveraging your experience is a difficult balance. Your experience is what allows you to flourish in your current arena, role and/or profession, and yet it is the muscle you built along the way of being a learner and integrating new ideas that built your success.

The willingness to continue to expand your tried-and-true solutions with fresh and new ideas creates positive growth for you, your goals, and for others.

Here are five techniques to strengthen your listening skills, keep your mind open, learn and absorb the brilliance everywhere:

1. Hear what the person is saying.

Don’t be thinking about your reply or judging their message as they speak. Show that you are listening by repeating their communication back using their words. Seek to understand.

2. Have that conversation!

If you choose not to have a conversation because you know how someone is going to respond, you are taking away the opportunity to learn from one other. Have the conversation anyway and remember to use your active listening skills. You’ll either validate your assumption or be pleasantly surprised with their different response.

3. Poke holes.

If an idea seems off or rubs you the wrong way, investigate the notion. Ask the person questions such as:

  1. How did you come to that conclusion?
  2. What did you notice that led you in this direction?
  3. How did you validate your idea?

It’s okay to ask clarifying questions to understand — even if the person resists your questions at first.

4. Diversify your feedback loop.

If you have a problem or opportunity that is unresolved or unrealized, ask people from all areas and walks of life for their ideas. You will be surprised by what you discover. If you are looking for a new way or better way, let others know what you have tried and ask them for their recommendations.

5. Challenge your assumptions.

If you are confident you know the answer, challenge your assumption that you have thought of everything. Take a chance to ask others, “what else don’t we know about this situation?”

The courage to ask questions when you don’t know and people think you should know, unleashes great ideas and freedom for yourself and them.