Becoming an Active Listener in 3 Steps

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“Hello? Hello? You never listen!” My fiancée, howling at me with the frustration of a high school teacher quelling the masses of unruly children in front of them.

“Of course I was listening!” I exclaim, the weakest of defences easily picked apart with one simple question:

“What did I say then?” At this point the game is up and I have indeed been busted.

It seems recently that I have developed a severe case of ‘selective hearing’. I don’t really know when it kicked in specifically, but I now know that it is indeed severe. Unfortunately, the problems with not listening effectively to others are numerous:

1. Your professional performance will decline.

I work at a prestigious car dealership. As a sales consultant, my job is to provide my customers with a quality vehicle at a great price. But in order to get that far I must be familiar with my customer’s needs, I must effectively listen to my customers and like the well trained archaeologist unearth their need. Without the ability to listen attentively, this would not be possible.

2. Your personal life will suffer.

The world is full of people. Every single individual has their own unique story to tell. One thing every single person also has in common is that they do not like to be ignored. In your personal life you are also dealing with people who have their own profound thoughts and feelings. A lack of listening is a lack of care. The last thing you need is to have friends and family upset with you because you are not paying enough attention.

3. Your communication skills will decrease.

Effective communication is about listening as well as speaking. Unless you're giving a presentation of some sort, day-to-day communication is very much about give and take. If you are not effectively listening to the people are you, you will lose touch. You will lose your bearings on what’s really going on around you, not to mention the fact that you may miss an important tidbit of information that could prove very useful down the line.

Now it may seem like this story has an air of negativity to it, but that’s not really the case.

Fortunately, selective hearing is curable. Here’s how we can become better listeners:

1. Take Interest

It is borderline impossible to listen to someone when you’re not interested. Not every person that you will communicate with has a particularly exciting story to tell, however there is usually something going on that you can anchor yourself to in order to remain interested. If you are unable to find this anchor than take interest in the fact that someone is choosing to use some of their finite time on earth to talk with you.

2. Challenge Yourself

Challenge yourself to not only remove your ‘selective hearing’ but to become an above average listener. When having conversations with friends and family, or even in a professional setting, push yourself to pick up on key words or phrases that your dance partner is using. Push yourself to remember things that may be out of left field or complex. Remind yourself that in order to be the best at anything you must practice, practice, practice!

3. Become an Active Listener

A rolling stone gathers no moss and a moving target is far harder to hit than a stationary one. By taking a more active role in listening you are transitioning from spectator to player. Take brief pauses in conversation to ask questions. Have the person speaking repeat what they are saying so that you can cement the concept in your mind. Take notes or use the notepad app in your cellphone while having conversations. Find the system that works for you to keep you engaged.

The last thought I would like to express would be the importance of choice. All of the tips, tricks ,and suggestions I have provided are useless unless you choose to take action. No matter how much your friends and family yell at you or your boss threatens to dock your next raise due to poor performance, you still have to choose to make a change. You have to choose to take interest, you have to choose to challenge yourself, and you have to choose to become an active listener.

Adonis Rosalle is a sales consultant at Toronto Chrysler by day, and fearless public speaking warrior by night. An aspiring motivational speaker, Adonis uses his professional speaking skills to inspire and uplift the masses.