In our last two Tips & Tricks articles, we talked about speaking and body language skills. This time, let’s look at how we can improve our listening.
- Be engaged – focus on the speaker alone (if needed, isolate yourselves; keep eye contact, listen without preconceptions and prejudice)
- Quiet please – instead of interrupting or completing the sentence give the person room to think and express his thoughts; silence is good!
- Never assume, always ask – if something isn’t clear, ask the speaker to be more specific (why, what, where, how)
- Check back and make sure you’ve understood the key message clearly – so what I’m hearing you say is this…
- Know when to stop listening – after you’ve agreed on possible actions, end the conversation to avoid unnecessary rambling.
If you often find yourself assuming rather than asking, perhaps this anecdote will help you ‘mend’ your ways. Enjoy!
When a CNN News photographer called a local airport to charter a flight, he was told a twin-engine plane would be waiting for him at the airport. Arriving at the airfield, he spotted a plane warming up outside a hanger. He jumped in, slammed the door shut, and shouted, ‘Let’s go’.
The pilot taxied out, swung the plane into the wind and took off. Once in the air, the photographer instructed the pilot, “Fly over the valley and make low passes so I can take pictures of the fires on the hillsides.”
“Why?” asked the pilot.
“Because I’m a photographer for CNN,” he responded, “and I need to get some close up shots.”
The pilot was strangely silent for a moment, finally he stammered, “So, what you’re telling me, is . . . You’re NOT my flight instructor?”