Why Don’t We Listen?
When you meet with your boss, an important client, a potential new friend or a love interest, you manage to listen without interrupting. You’re a paragon of attentiveness, asking all the right questions and paying attention to the answers. You make sure you don’t talk too much.
Highly successful people do this all the time. They’re automatically good listeners. They show they care by thinking before they speak, they listen with respect, and they respond appropriately.
The rest of us forget these basic civilities. We get distracted. We don’t take the time to practice the mental discipline of good listening in every personal encounter. We rank listening opportunities according to assigned importance and apply effort only when it benefits our careers or personal lives.
Test Your Listening Skills
Here’s a simple exercise for developing better listening skills from Marshall Goldsmith’s What Got You Here Won’t Get You There:
Close your eyes and count slowly to 50 with one simple goal: Do not let another thought intrude into your mind. You must concentrate on maintaining the count.
More than half the people who try this fail after counting to 20 or 30. Nagging thoughts enter the brain.
This exercise may sound like a concentration test, but it’s really a listening assessment. If you can’t listen to yourself as you count to 50, how can you effectively listen to another person?
The more you practice Goldsmith’s exercise, the more success you’ll experience – and the better you’ll be able to focus attention on truly listening to another person.
Check back tomorrow for Part 4: 9 Keys to Better Listening