Give the gift of listening

Give the Gift of Listening this Christmas

In this communication age of 24/7 connectivity how much active listening do we actually do?

Although hearing is an automatic function, active listening is something that we have to choose to do. According to Julian Treasure, author of Sound Business and regular TED contributor, few of us are taught to listen consciously and most people think they are far better at it than they really are.

We can listen to about 500 words a minute, but only speak between 125 and 250 words a minute. This leaves plenty of time for listeners to wander off and think about other things!

The temptation to check phone messages, read and write emails or look at a computer screen whilst ‘listening’ means only partial attention is being made available for listening. Choosing to ‘tune in’ and listen fully is a simple yet powerful way to connect and engage with other people.

In Dale Carnegie’s famous book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ written over eighty years ago, he said “the trick to making people like you is simply to listen to them”. A more modern business publication, ‘The Art of People’ by Dave Kerpen suggests business success comes to those who focus less on themselves and more on others. He encourages people to ‘be interested’ instead of ‘interesting’.

So, here are 5 practical steps to help you prepare for active listening:

1) Turn off or mute any devices that might distract you

2) Lean towards your speaker

3) Use eye contact

4) Keep your mouth shut (to avoid interrupting)

5) Keep relaxed

Active listening is a complex skill that needs to be practised, but when mastered it can boost your relationship, career and quality of life, so why not start today and give the gift of listening.

Let me know how you get on!

Happy Christmas

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