Gain Respect and Influence by Learning to Give Attention to Others

Listening is a lost art in our culture. We have communication devices everywhere, but most people use them only for speaking—very few of us are willing to listen.

Also, listening is integral to connecting. It helps us understand the life experiences of another person. Nobody learns anything by talking. Most of our learning—about people, about problems, about solutions—comes through listening. If you want to be a good leader, you must become a great listener.

Remember that listening is more than giving a polite nod to the words that come from someone’s mouth. It involves the total person.

Here are four ways to become a better listener.

  1. Listen with your mind by focusing on the other person.

If you knew you would be required to repeat what another person was saying to you, you would engage your mind more fully in the act of listening. Try to give your full attention when listening.

  1. Listen with your ears by paying attention to tone.

Communication involves far more than the words themselves. By paying attention to the tone of the speaker’s voice, you can respond at an appropriate emotional level.

  1. Listen with your eyes by making contact with the speaker.

Eye contact is often ignored in our digital world. It’s not uncommon to be speaking to someone whose eyes are glued to a smart phone or darting toward the door. Listening with your eyes makes an emotional connection with the speaker, gaining trust. It also allows you to look for the hidden needs or wants that may be driving the communication.

  1. Listen with your body by leaning into the conversation.

Respect personal boundaries, obviously. But remember that your stance, body language, distance from the speaker, and even whether you are seated or standing can affect how well you hear and how much the other person feels valued.

Practice these tips, and you’ll hear others more clearly—and earn the right to be heard.

What are your best tips for active listening? Share them on Facebook or Twitter!