Listen Up! 3 Steps to Make You a Better Listener
“5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .”
I do this countdown over and over (and over) on nights I coach Heart and Sole. My team of runners are all 11- to 13-year-old girls, and they struggle with listening. I start each countdown with the hopes they’ll be quiet and respectful by the time I hit one. Sometimes it even happens.
I don’t blame them for their short attention spans, though. Adults aren’t much better than tweens. It boils down to this: people suck at listening.
As a project manager, I’ve learned that the most valuable service I can provide is simply listening to my clients. Here’s what makes a good listener — and why it’s important for you to fully commit to your conversations, both at work and at home.
1. Listen In
It seems like such a basic, right? Listening isn’t “hard.” But there are some significant differences between hearing something and listening to someone.
A great listener takes note of:
- Facts and data shared in the conversation
- The emotion driving the discussion
- The values most meaningful to the speaker
- The intention behind the conversation
People tell you a lot of information in the way they speak or through the goals they’ve set.
In digital marketing, a client might say they’re not sure about the answer — but they’ll tell you what they think through the values they present in the conversation.
This is why I find note-taking incredibly helpful. I can clarify what I’m hearing and recap conversations to make sure I’m understanding the actual intention behind what’s said.
2. Speak Well
It’s not all on the listener’s shoulders, though. Speakers can help out to make conversations run smoothly.
If you feel like you’re not getting your point across effectively with someone, try the following tips:
- Repeat yourself
- Check for understanding in the moment
- Take responsibility for the outcome
This can work with everyone, from your partner to the people at your marketing agency.
Effective communication rules don’t change when you enter the business world. You’re just having a different conversation.
3. Improve Your Communication
Do me a favor — try out one of these communication tips, and see if your conversations improve.
Not every interaction is going to be backed by meaningful intention, but you also don’t have to move through life with the attention span of a 12-year-old girl. In my life, I’m trying to shoot for somewhere in between.
Join the 9 Clouds team as we learn how to listen and communicate better — among other things — on the 9 Clouds blog.