Being engaged and present is easier said than done, especially when you’re juggling commitments but in business it’s essential to be switched on and absorbing information that’s being fed to you. If you miss out on crucial details and try and fill in the blanks on your own, you risk losing the opportunity to impress colleagues, bosses and clients with your unique thoughts and contributions to meetings and brainstorming. But, don’t forget that the skill of listening goes far beyond just hearing the words that others are saying. It’s an active effort to understand and retain the information that is being given to you. Here are a few ways to listen better, and progress in business and life further.
- Stop trying to multitask
Put away your smartphone and other devices and focus on taking notes. That might be on a notepad if you can’t trust yourself on a laptop with other windows open. Actively listening to someone else speak, should consume all of your brain power.
- Don’t interrupt the speaker
While you are listening, try not to interrupt the speaker and instead write your thought or idea down and share it at the right time so you can keep your focus on the speaker. When it’s time to discuss or share feedback, ask smart, relevant questions and share your ideas and thoughts.
- Listen with your body language
By leaning in and nodding along with the person speaking you not only indicate to them that you are following along with the information they are sharing with you, but it also encourages the brain to actively listen and concentrate on the data. Maintain eye contact and take notes to stay on track.
- Don’t try to impress anyone
Instead of trying to stand out with good questions or something witty to contribute after the person has finished speaking, focus on the information you are receiving. As a member of an audience, the person speaking is the most important thing at the moment, not a funny comment
- Establish stepping stones
This works best when you are on the phone or receiving a lot of information, where it can be a good signpost or stepping stone to repeat or summarise what you are hearing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you’re feeling overwhelmed with information.