The gift I’m referring to doesn’t involve shopping, money or wrapping paper. It is a gift that when given selflessly can offer more value to another human being than a material gift ever could. Have you guessed what it is?
“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway
Although most people would say that they listen to others all the time, there is a decided difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is a sensory ability. Listening is an active and intentional process. Active listeners are completely tuned into the speaker’s words. How often can you honestly say that you are actively listening?
As coaches we hone our listening skills and the partnerships we share with our clients hinge on listening. This is particularly important when coaching is performed remotely. Listening is a skill and like any skill it requires practice.
Here are some listening tips for you to try on when engaged in a conversation:
- Be fully present and focused on what is being said, as well as how it’s being said.
- Quiet your mind.
- Put your own agenda aside.
- Reserve judgement and assumptions. Be especially mindful of the good old “OMG I know what you mean, the same thing happened to me…” Hang on a minute… have you listened long enough and well enough to know that for sure?
- Turn down the volume of the narrative in your head.
- Completely listen and allow the person you’re speaking with to finish before worrying about what you’re going to say. If you’re listening properly, the next thing to say will come naturally.
- Learn to be comfortable with silence in a conversation – it gives the other person the space to keep talking if they need to.
As well as practising active listening more in everyday life, if you are in business, listening is the greatest gift you can give to your business. How? By understanding and listening deeply to your customers. After all, they are the reason your business exists. How are you listening to your customers? Consider the following.
- If you are listening, how do your customers know they’re being heard?
- What do your customers want from you?
- How does doing business with you make your customers feel?
- What do your customers believe about your brand?
- What’s the experience your customers want to have in every interaction with your brand?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, ASK. Then LISTEN.
What a simple gift and what value we can add to each other’s lives simply by listening.
PS – For the first time since 2014 I am offering private 1:1 coaching calls via Zoom, on a one-off or regular basis. Find out more about my 1:1 clarity coaching calls here.