You hear it all the time, but it’s true enough that it’s worth reiterating. If you want to be listened to, you’ve got to listen. This is just a specific instance of the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. Listen to them. And even if you don’t want to be listened to, being an effective listener is one of the most important things you can do to develop healthy social relationships in general. Here are three ways to become an effective listener that you should keep in mind, even if you are one already.
Stay Aware of the Conversational Floor
The so-called conversational floor is a fancy term for the terms of discussion. In other words, the conversational floor is the sum total of the tones you and your interlocutor are using; how you’re both reacting to what’s being said; and, fundamentally, what’s being discussed. In being an effective listener, it’s important to pay close attention to how what you’re saying is being taken, and to pay just as close attention to how you’re reacting yourself. This is what makes a conversation: Attention. It comes into play in one other aspect of the conversation, as well . . .
Another important factor in becoming an effective listener is staying dynamic. Now, this is more of a conversational trick than a listening one in general, but the idea is, if you can have a good conversation, you have to be listening, since it’s only by listening that you can engineer the topics of speech in a positive way. This is exactly the principle we’re employing here. If you pay attention to what’s being said and how it’s being reacted to, you’ll be able to take that information and apply it in determining what the person you’re talking with wants to talk about next, or, more relevantly, wants you to take away from what he or she is saying.
When you identify this, it’s your job to inquire about it, or at least to acknowledge that it’s been identified (“Oh, so you mean that . . . “). This is the mark of a good listener: One who can see what’s being discussed, identify its context, and understand what about it is important, and why.
Participate, but Shut Up
Finally, we have to recommend that, in order to be the most effective listener you can be, it’s important to talk about yourself only when there’s a lull in the conversation. Remember, you’re listening, not presenting. Hear what your partner has to say, ask the questions he or she suggests (as discussed above), pay attention to what you’re talking about – but keep the information about you to a minimum, since, important as you are, telling is not listening. It’s important to talk about yourself a little bit, however, so it’s not that you shouldn’t: It’s just that you should refrain from doing so unless the conversation you’ve listened to so far suggests you do!
It’s your turn!
Do you consider yourself to be an effective listener? Do you feel that the tips I’ve shared will help you with your business? Please feel free to share your feedback in the comments section and I look forward to reading them.