Listening and Communicating Well

“Speak in such a way that others love to listen to you.  Listen in such a way that others love to speak to you.”  Anonymous

Much of my work depends on listening well, whether it be to a client describing a business need or to a consumer talking about their experiences. Over the years, I have learned about the importance of listening and how listening well can yield important insights, both professionally and personally. My favorite listening tip is to reflect back what you have heard. This forces you to make sure that you really hear what the other person is saying. Plus, this allows the other person to know that they have been heard or to clarify what they are saying if you have not heard them correctly. When someone is talking, resist the urge to formulate a question while they are talking. Then, your mind is not on something else while they are talking. Instead, listen to what they are saying and focus on being ready to reflect back.

As an insights provider, I try to keep abreast of recent articles related to listening and communication. Here are a few tips I have found useful:

  • Be truly present in the moment. Ask open-ended questions to more fully prompt open conversation. Be interested in other people.  Truly listen with the intent to understand, and really pay attention to what the other person is saying, instead of focusing on forming a reply. These are tips from 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation,” a TED Talk by Celeste Headlee.
  • When trying to convey a concept very familiar to you, remember that sometimes you are too close to your idea. You might communicate in a way that is too abstract and skip steps in explanations. I have seen this with project teams using jargon when writing concepts or advertising with which the consumer will be completely unfamiliar. Run your idea past someone removed from it to see if it makes sense. Choose your words carefully, trying to make them as simple as possible. From The No. 1 Communication Mistake That Even Smart People Make