How to listen:
Listening is an important leadership skill. Through good listening, you can acquire information, identify and clarify issues, make decisions, and resolve conflict.
While listening may seem like it should be easy to do, it can be very difficult, often requiring more mental effort than speaking. To learn to listen better:
1. Keep an open mind. Avoid making assumptions and judgments before the speaker finishes.
2. Maintain eye contact. Give the speaker your full attention.
3. Watch your body language. Relax. Uncross your arms and legs, and refrain from tapping your fingers or making other nervous gestures. Instead, lean toward the speaker and nod and smile when appropriate.
4. Listen for key ideas and full understanding. Seek out and remember the speaker’s main ideas and points. For example, if the speaker is relaying the reasons why a major project is being delayed, listen carefully for each specific reason.
5. Rephrase what the speaker is saying. Show the speaker you understand what he is saying and allow him to clarify if you are missing the point. For example, say something like, “If I understand correctly, the main reason for the delay is the design change.”
6. Ask questions. Confirm your understanding and get more information: “Why was the previous design inadequate?” “How much will the design changes cost?”
7. Evaluate. When the speaker is finished, think carefully about what he said before you respond.