“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” –Stephen R. Covey
In his best-selling book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven R. Covey states that Habit #5 of all highly effective people is that they “Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood.”
In other words, highly effective people listen first and talk second.
Keeping Habit #5 in mind, here are five simple things that great listeners know, and you should too:
• It’s not about you. Great listeners know that when other people approach them to talk, it’s usually because they want to be heard and understood—not to be “talked at.”
• Cut back on “me too.” People can pick up whenever someone is more interested in sharing their own stories than they are simply listening to the other person. People want to be the main character in their own stories…not you!
• Ask open-ended questions. Great listeners not only listen for what’s being said, they listen for why they’re being told in the first place. Open-ended questions are a great way to get inside the thoughts and feelings of the other person to listen for the why.
• Leave Olivia Pope to Thursday nights. Even when they are facing real-life problems, people don’t like to get “fixed.” Great listeners recognize that not every problem shared with them requires that they take on the role of “fixer” like Scandal’s Olivia Pope. Usually when others want to talk, they aren’t looking for solutions…just an empathetic ear.
• It’s more than just your ears. While it’s possible to hear what’s being said with our ears, great listeners know that they must also listen with their entire bodies. Great listeners are intentional about their use of body language because they know what it can communicate to the person speaking. Listen with your entire body…not just your ears.
Not only does listening help the other person, it helps you too!
Because at the end of the day
Much of what you learn comes from what you listen to—not from what you say!