Judy Judge, in her popular small claims court TV show, reminds the participants often “We have two ears and one mouth. Use them accordingly.” If you’re a fan, you know her other favorite expression is “listening ears, listening ears.”
How are you at listening? Do you have your listening ears on?
If instead of focusing on the speaker, you,
- interrupt often
- talk over them to make your point
- finish their sentences for them
- formulate your response while they speak
- hear only parts of the conversations
- tune out shortly after they begin to speak…….
Then your listening skills don’t meet Judge Judy’s standards. And most likely, they are not serving you well at home or work.
To be a good communicator, you have to listen well. Period. There’s no sugar-coating it.
And when it comes to difficult conversations, listening skills are crucial because the stakes are higher in tough conversations. There’s more emotion. There’s more defensiveness. More left unsaid. In a difficult conversation, everyone is a bit tense. It’s not likely you can resolve a tough issue in a conversation when you aren’t hearing what is said.
As you read this post, be honest…are you thinking to yourself, “I’m a great listener?” Or do you know deep down that your listening ears could use a good cleaning out?
Challenge: Here’s a challenge for you to discover the truth about your listening skills with only two steps:
- Enlist help. Ask someone close to you (who will tell you the truth) to call you out for the next three days. Tell them about the challenge and ask them to raise their index finger every time they observe you interrupting, talking over, tuning out, or finishing other’s thoughts for the next three days. Make note of how often they need to point out your lack of good listening, and of course, don’t bite their head off when they catch you.
- Play it back. For the next three days, commit to repeating back to others what you heard them say. No need to go word for word. Just confirm you heard them. You got their meaning. You are listening. At the end of the day, take a few minutes to review your performance. Do you listen or only in part? Generally were you able to mirror their comments, or were you lost in your own thoughts?
If you are tempted to blow off this challenge, give this some thought:
We can’t get what we don’t give.
That means if you suck at listening, you can’t expect others to be attentive when you speak. How will you gain their attention if you aren’t giving it? Why would you think you deserve it if you don’t give it?
What comes around, goes around.
To be an effective communicator, a great boss, a good husband, a loving friend, a great parent, you need to listen well.
To listen well, you have to make the effort and create the habit.
To make the effort, you have to care enough about the other person and/or the outcome of the situation to choose to hear the conversation.
Skip the above behaviors and you can expect others will skip them with you.
It’s only by hearing what is being said, that you can ascertain:
- what others need
- what the situation demands
- what their feelings and emotions are
It’s counter-intuitive. To be great at what you do or whatever role you are in, you have to be a great listener. In the end, listening well affects YOUR success, YOUR relationships, YOUR reputation.
If you’ve been thinking listening is all about the other person, it’s time to change your point of view. Great listening, in the end, is all about you. The better you listen, the more effective and successful you are.
Do I have your attention yet? Being a great listener benefits YOU. Stay tuned for Part II on listening to pick up some habits and routines that will make listening easy.
In the meantime, will you do the challenge? I’ve got my listening ears on and would love to hear your thoughts.