Super Habit #44: Listen Up!

We’ve been studying the super habits of successful people. I’ve said before that none of the habits on the list are really better than any other, but if you don’t listen, you won’t get too far. Listening is essential for success.

If you’re like me, you’re an average listener. That’s not bad, but we could still learn to improve our listening skills. So here are some ideas for becoming a better listener.

7 Ways to Become a Better Listener

  1. Have an open mind: One reason we don’t listen is that we assume we already know what is going to be said. This is called scriptwriting. However, you can’t assume you know what is going to be said based on the fist few words. Also, know that as listeners we pay attention to what we find interesting or important. That is called selective listening. Try to listen fully with an open mind.
  2. Maintain eye contact: Always face the speaker and maintain eye contact. It shows respect, and you’re more likely to pay closer attention to his or her words and expressions.
  3. Don’t interrupt or offer solutions: There will be a time to offer your ideas. Just don’t interrupt. Wait until the speaker offers you the opportunity to respond. You don’t need to fix everything. Sometimes you just need to listen.
  4. Wait for the speaker to pause to ask questions: We use verbal fillers like um and ah to help monitor conversation. Wait until you’re sure the speaker has paused to give you a chance to speak or ask questions.
  5. Have some empathy: Pay attention to the speaker’s feelings. Understanding how someone feels can help you put the content of the message into context. Your response should differ based on the emotions of the speaker. You might need to offer support to an upset colleague. On the other hand, you may need to apologize to an upset boss.
  6. Give regular feedback: Your feedback is important. It shows the other person that you are interested, that you care. An occasional nod or uh-huh shows the speaker that you’re paying attention. Provide the speaker with non-verbal and verbal feedback when appropriate.
  7. Consider nonverbal cues: We can learn a lot about someone by watching their nonverbal cues. Have you ever watched TV with the sound off? Try it. More than likely you’ll gain some insight into the speakers and their messages simply based on their non-verbal behavior.

More on Listening with Julian Treasure

In our louder and louder world, says sound expert Julian Treasure, “We are losing our listening.” In this short, fascinating talk, Treasure shares five ways to re-tune your ears for conscious listening — to other people and the world around you.

Finally, awhile ago I asked author, Jeff Goins, what habit most led to his success? His answer: listening. You can learn more about Jeff’s take on listing in my article, This Habit Helped Jeff Goins Make an Income at Writing.

If you’d like to learn more simple habits for success, sign up for my newsletter today. You’ll get my free eBook, The Happiness of Simple.