Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Listening Skills

Listening is an overlooked communication skill. However, it is one of the most effective skills to utilize in the process of innovation. It is essential to listen to other board members as they craft innovative plans.

1. Don't Let The Words Distract You

Numerous studies show that less than half of what is communicated is through spoken words. Some studies give words even less weight on the communication scale. Albert Mehrabian, Ph.D. conducted some of the most influential studies on the importance for the nonverbal components of communication. His landmark report rated 7% importance for words, 38% for tone and 55% for body language for their effectiveness. Whether you dispute or agree with his percentages, they illustrate that you miss a great deal of content if you listen to words alone.

HOW someone says something is far more important than WHAT they say. Listen for infections, signs and coughs. These are unconscious body signals that 'highlight' a statement. They tell you that what was just said was important. For example if someone says, "I love working on that project." and then coughs or sighs it is likely that there is a part of them that doesn't believe the statement. 

2. Oh, What A Difference A But Makes
Become a "but" watcher and you'll be dazzled at how much better your perception becomes. Pay attention to the word "but" in any sentence. It tells you, the listener, that everything said before the "but" might not be the truth. "I love my new position, but the hours drive me insane." The bigger truth in that sentence is that the speaker is drowning under their workload.

3. Don't Skip The End
Pay particular attention to what someone says at the end of a sentence. "I'd like to put together a presentation, except I don't know how." Often people make a preamble of what they think the listener would like you hear. Many save the most honest part of a statement for the end of a sentence.

4. The "Should, Can't, Have To" Crystal Ball.
Each one of these words conveys a negative belief or perceived assessment of a situation. Watch the statement that follows "Should", "Can't”, and "Have To." The listener is telling you that they really don't want to do what they are saying. Watch these words closely and folks around you will think you are plugged into the psychic hot line.

5. Ask Is Not A Four Letter Word

Just because you speak the same language...don't assume you understand another person. The message sent is often not the message received. Masterful listeners ask, ask, ask. Any sales executive knows that the person asking the questions is the person in control of the conversation. An easy way to become an expert listener is to verify that your perception of what was said was what the speaker meant.

No comments: