In a previous blog, we discussed the benefits of listening effectively, a communications skill highly prized in all business settings. By improving our listening skills, we prove ourselves knowledgeable and create excellent rapport with the person we’re speaking to.
One of the best ways to prove we are listening closely to the other person is by analysing what has been said and keeping the conversation on a two-way footing.
We do this by asking questions and making statements to clarify the meaning of the other person. Asking the right quality questions at the right time is a pre-requisite to active listening. If you research what has been said, it makes your job as a listener simpler, because you get the speaker to open up and reveal inner needs, feelings, desires, motivations, opinions, facts and goals.
Quality questions ask the speaker to elaborate on what they are saying, or gets them to clarify something that wasn’t absolutely clear, or could have been ambiguous. This stops you from making assumptions about what the other person has said, and lets you understand the meaning without much effort.
Another way you can show you are actively listening is by using empathetic statements, which consist of three specific parts:
• Tentative testing
• Definition of feeling
• Situational context
One example would be: “It seems to me that you’re feeling frustrated by what that customer said to you”
“It seems to me” is the tentative testing of your understanding. “You’re feeling frustrated” is your definition of the feeling, and “what the customer said to you” is the situational context.
By stating back your understanding of what the speaker has said, outlining your belief of how they feel, you prove you’re actively listening and that encourages the speaker to open up and tell you more. It also allows the speaker to correct, refine or expand the message. And it creates a natural bond between the two of you, because the speaker feels you are on the same wavelength, making them feel comfortable and willing to share their ideas more openly.
Originally published: 27 September, 2010
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