There are many ways to listen better. You spend 45% of your time at work listening. 30% of your time at work is spent talking and 16% reading and another 5% writing. (Forbes) Yet, according to the International Listening Association, 2% of individuals have ever received any type of training to help you listen better.
There are two critical factors to help you listen better: Be Present and Be Reflective. Sure you can take assessments to determine your listening style, the type of listener that you are and find out what you comprehend when you do listen. In case you were wondering, we understand 25% of what we hear on average.
The fact remains that professionals spend 45% of our time or almost 2.5 days per work week listening. You listen to clients, you listen to co-workers, you listen to vendors and you listen to your wife and kids. Or do you?
How do we improve our ability to be PRESENT and be REFLECTIVE?
Being present is being fully immersed in the moment you are in currently with mind and heart. For example: this means not checking your email or phone while sitting in a meeting. Do not forget your body language as you seek to be present. Lean in and do not fold your arms. I know you have a hundred things to do.
Being reflective is helping the individual feel understood by summarizing what you are hearing. For example: “It sounds like you are feeling frustrated with this situation”
Consider the matrix below:
Quickly take a look at the self-assessment matrix below and evaluate whether you are strong at being Present and strong at being Reflective.
The detached listener is not present and not reflective. They are having conversation in “drive by” style not staying strongly connected to the moment and the speaker does not feel heard. Keep in mind the person you are speaking with may feel detached from you relationally.
The involved listener is highly reflective and not in the moment. They may be looking away or checking their phone periodically or just distracted. They may actually reflect incorrectly. The passive listener is present in the room and yet they are not skilled at reflecting back what has been said, thus the low reflection score.
To move to active means you need to be fully present and fully reflective.
Keep in mind that “The basic need of all human beings is to understand and to be understood.” Ralph Nichols. Imagine what your team or business would be like if your people felt understood. Imagine what the prospect would feel if they knew that their problems were completely understood and you had a great solution for them. Imagine what it would be like if your manager understood your challenges and road blocks.
It can become a reality, which is why you need to incorporate the concepts of being present and being reflective.