How to Listen

How to Listen

Listening is difficult for almost everyone. Have you ever wondered how you can improve your listening skills? The first step is to leverage what you hear and to reconfirm your understanding of their message. It is important for you to take the attention off yourself by making it clear you have heard and understand their emotional point of view. From there you can communicate that you also have a point to make, but the point is based on the greater good for the group that you represent, i.e., your audience. For example, you might say to someone on your team, “I thought of this idea for you.”  Get into a ‘serving mentality’ and always know that this has to be done for them, not to them. You want to enable and empower your team.

When you come to the table with a non-directive, nonjudgmental, feeling-oriented response, you are allowing the person to feel heard. Now, they can move from a stuck stage, the story, to the solution stage. Try this next time when you are with someone – just listen and reflect on the feeling. You will find the person is more willing to open up and share the ingredient you really want to know. 

The four main factors to communicating better:

  1. Feeling oriented– Feeling is generated based on how one interprets thoughts. Understanding the emotions is more important than the thoughts themselves, so explore those feeling and show care. Clarify and seek to understand, having one focus on their “here and now”
  2. Empathy– Ability to put yourself in others’ shoes and feeling with someone. We seek to validate one viewpoint and empower them to problem solve.
  3. Non Verbals– Words along won’t give us the full picture. Listening for the not so obvious such as hesitations, tone volume, and facial expression is as important as words themselves. 
  4. Accepting and allowing- Allowing one to express themselves fully shows them respect and acceptance no matter how negative or positive the message is. Accepting is an important element of building strong lasting and meaningful relationships.

Alkesh Patel LPC, CSAC, CEO