Wed, 13 November 2019
When you’re at work, do you spend more time hearing or listening? They may seem similar, but the differences between just hearing and actually listening are astounding. With all the technology and distractions we have today, it’s crucial for us to be able to take a step back and really listen to what’s being said. As automation and AI become more prevalent at work, listening is a distinctly human attribute that sets us apart. Robots and technology can hear, but they can’t truly listen.
How do you move from hearing to really listening? Here are three tips:
Most people can tell when someone is actually listening to them and when they’re distracted and not really paying attention. It comes down to active listening. Hearing is a passive action, but really listening is active. To practice active listening, eliminate any distractions. Put your phone down, step away from the computer, or go into a quiet room. Make eye contact with the person speaking and show you’re paying attention and interested in what they’re saying. Active listening turns a conversation into a collaboration, not just a one-way street.
Shift your mindset to try to find value in what each person says. When you listen to understand, you start to see things from their point of view and can have your horizons expanded. Really focus on how you can understand and apply what the person is saying. The extra effort will increase how well you remember the conversation details in the future and make you a better listener.
Many of us fall into the trap of focusing on what we’re going to say next instead of actually listening to the person speaking. We’re thinking of a counterargument or a point that will make us look good instead of actually focusing on what’s being said. If you need to respond to something, set those thoughts aside and focus on just listening to the speaker. Then take a few minutes after the conversation to gather your thoughts and craft a response.
The old saying, “Hearing is through the ears, listening is through the mind” has never been more true. To thrive in the future, organizations need to stay human, and that starts with employees and leaders who focus on the uniquely human attribute of listening. Listening instead of just hearing turns you into a better employee, leader, and individual. Put these tips into action to stop hearing and start listening.