If listening was an Olympic sport, most people would not even qualify to compete. The good news is you can improve your qualifying score. You can become a better listener. Even the greatest athletes of all time understood the value of training. Before training begins, we have to test your listening skills.
What was the first sentence of this post about? Just kidding, the test begins below:
1. Amnesia: While regurgitating information by itself does not count as listening, it is the beginning. If you weren’t paying attention then you will not remember what was said. Do you remember more of what you say from conversations or the other person?
2. Taking Turns: Waiting for your turn to talk is not a conversation. Do you bide your time because you already know what your boss is going to say, or do you listen to the nuance of her phrasing?
3. Impact or Near Miss: I will admit some people are boring, but a near-miss usually happens because you did not invest in the conversation. Do conversations have an impact on you or are they a near-miss because you are somewhere else in your thoughts?
4. Head Nodding: Bobble-heading is an extreme Olympic sport, like the luge. Practice occasional head nods. Nodding communicates to the talker that you understand what they are saying (in Japan it communicates that you understand but do not agree).
5. Prepared: A good listener actively removes distractions to ensure effective listening. Do you set your smart phone face up waiting for a text, or face down telling your friend you are focused on him?
6. Eyeballs: I discussed this in a previous post here. Eye-contact is important, but it is not a staring contest. When listening to my wife, if she cannot see me looking at her in the eye, she is convinced I am not listening (and she is usually right… Ok she is always right). Do you communicate interest by maintaining eye-contact or boredom by scanning the room?
The above list is not comprehensive. There are many more tools for evaluating and improving your listening skills. This list is for those who need a bite-size starting place. Practice these tips for 22 days and you will be on your way to Olympic listening.
Question: How did you do on the test? Do you have a mentor who can train your listening skills?