Improve Your Listening Skills

Do you ever feel like other people are not on the same wavelength as you? Just being aware that every communication relays both information and feelings can make a world of difference when it comes to getting the most out of your conversations with your team members.

Here are four easy steps to becoming a better listener:

1. Look for situations to practice not speaking. Try just listening to others and notice how often you have to stop yourself from speaking. The less you find yourself wanting to interrupt, the better listener you will become.

2. To improve your listening flexibility when another person is speaking, listen to the factual content and ask yourself, what is this person feeling?

3. Look for non-verbal messages such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice to get in tune with the feelings behind the message. Try reflecting back what you are picking up. You could say, "You seem to be concerned about that" or "You must be really pleased about that."

4. Restating in your own words what you have heard from your team members demonstrates that you really were listening, and when you add the content that telegraphs feelings, it shows that you care about them as well.

You hear what you listen for and what you are focused on. Focus on listening to understand—both the facts and the feelings. Your team members will notice your efforts to be a better listener and this will open up healthier interpersonal communication in your workplace.

Keith Ayers President Integro Leadership Institute West Chester, Penn.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.