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How good a listener are you?

How good a listener are you? Well, without thinking, you will most likely say that you are a very good listener and communicator too. However, you may be surprised at the actual quality of your listening when actually measured. Someone who is actually a good listener is often hard to come. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people like to voice their own ideas and opinions, but when it comes to actually taking time to listen to others, they are not so ready.

For those who want to sharpen your skills and become a better listener in your personal and business life, here are a few things that you should know.

There's a Price to Pay for Poor Listening Skills -- Poor Listening Can Lead to Detrimental Effects

Based on various communication studies over the years, poor communication skills can be very costly to an organization. When people do not strive to get a full understanding of what another person is saying, this can lead to a wide range of detrimental effects.

  • Errors in processes and procedures that cause an individual or a group to perform their activities incorrectly.
  • Poor decisions carried out because the information provided was skewed in one way or another.
  • Lost of trust by individuals and entire work groups because the bosses actions and intentions are misunderstood.
  • Confusion in the workplace that completely breaks a workgroups cohesiveness
  • Major obstacles in communication that keeps the message from flowing up and down channels in an organization properly.

All of the negative effects of poor listening can be major hurdles to the success of a business workgroup or corporate establishment. If you want to make sure that you are not a stumbling block to the success of your company or business today, here are some communication skills that you should work to improve.

4 Essential Skills of a Good listener

1. Be an 'Active Listener'

Active listening is considered to be an acquired skill that people perfect over time. In fact, with some practice, you can begin to listen and show your attentiveness, by such things as your body language and eye-contact. As you begin to put these tips into practice, you will find that your ability to concentrate on what the person is saying and to discern the true message, will improve greatly.

An active listener displays specific signals in their behavior, including paying close attention through non-verbal means. Some of the more notable signals include keeping close eye contact, sitting or standing in a manner that shows respect to the speaker.

A powerful verbal sign you can give is to briefly summarise what they have said once they have finished speaking. This demonstrates that you desire to understand what the other person is trying to convey. Of course, in order to be able to do this, you would have to have been giving the speaker your full attention...

2. Give the Person Your Full Attention

The best listeners are those that give people their full attention. Simply put, instead of being distracted by every sound and movement made that surrounds them, good listeners keep their focus on what the other person is saying with special intent.

If you appear distracted, glancing at the clock or your phone every few second, this will obviously give the other person the impression that you pre-occupied, and that what they have to say is not particularly important to you. Putting your phone on do not disturb when in a meeting will help you to minimise potential distractions and interruptions.

3. Actively Avoid Becoming Defensive

If you want to make sure that you do not miss anything the other person is trying to convey, avoid becoming defensive at any point in time. This can be particularly challenging when the other person appears to be criticizing your work or the actions you've taken.

In such a situation, resist the urge to cut the person off, let them finish speaking, and try to discern if there is any truth in what they are saying. Try not to take what the other person is saying or as a personal attack on you and your character. Thinking positively will help to keep the lines of communication open and give you a better chance of resolving the issue. By using this tactic, you will not be distracted from the message that is being presented to you.

4. Empathy mixed with Patience is a Must and Not a Luxury

Empathy mixed with patience is another key to communicating effectively. Getting bored and asking the individual to speak quickly to save time, are obvious barriers free communication, and don't show respect for the speaker. It is very important that this combination of empathy and patience is exercised as at all times. Exercising patience and empathy has a wide range creates a safe, relaxed environment that fosters open communication within a unit.

How good a listener are you? The answer to this question may vary based on your listening style. However, it is important to note that there are specific characteristics of being a good listener. Some of the most important include being active listener, giving the person your full attention, avoiding defensiveness and adding a mixture of empathy and patience to ensure you are hearing the correct message from an individual or a group people. Start implementing these techniques in your listening and you'll soon see improvement.

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