Open-Minded Listening TipsBy Dr. Dennis O'Grady
Did you know that 70-75% of good communication involves being an interactive listener? But do you really understand the talk preferences of your co-communicator? As a communications psychologist, I've been paid to listen for 30+ years, and I haven't begun to scratch the surface of the science of effective listening. That being said, here are a few general strategies to help you listen with the combined strengths of Empathizer-type and Instigator-type communicators...
1. BE CALM
Listening Tip: Think -- "I'm going to turn my full attention to the speaker now and tune out everything else that's begging for my consideration."
Listening Tip: Think -- "I can do this listening-with-all-ears-open thing by tuning in only to the message of the speaker and by actively listening to what's being said."
3. DON'T JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS
Listening Tip: Think -- "Here I go again, thinking that the speaker doesn't know what he or she is talking about. Enough of the Doubting Thomas stuff. Focus in and listen up!"
4. GO EASY
Listening Tip: Think -- "O.K. Easy does it. Now is not the time to be the harried rabbit, running for all you're worth to win the race. Slow is better...slow down you mind and listen up! You're doing pretty darned good so far."
5. ENCOURAGE POSITIVE TALK
Listening Tip: Think -- "My listening skills are improving a little every day in every way. Take a deep breath and relax! This might be a good time to summarize and repeat what I think I heard the speaker say. Ready?!"
6. CHECK IT OUT
Listening Tip: Think -- "It takes courage to verify what someone else is saying, especially when emotions are running high and the speaker isn't happy. Way to go!"
7. BACK PAT
Listening Tip: Think -- "O.K. Being a good listener automatically puts me in the spotlight, as I work hard to satisfy my customers and determine how I can progressively better serve them...important customers which include first, myself; secondly, with whomever I'm speaking; and thirdly, my spouse and children, who need to sound off sometimes. Keep up the good work of listening dude!"
Although Empathizer and Instigator communicators listen quite differently, the listening tips above work for both types of communicators. Since E-type speakers aren't used to being heard--be prepared when you listen up! And since I-type speakers aren't used to being in the passenger's seat when communicating--be prepared to relax and take it easy once in a while. Relaxing, opening your mind, and going easy is what effective listening is all about.