How To Be An Effective Listener

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

When I started exploring my personal brand I realised that as an introvert I listen a lot. I’ve found that during conversations I prefer to ask questions than talk about myself, and I take a similar approach during meetings.

Those meetings and conversations aren’t just about talking though. It’s also about being present. Have you ever been in a conversation where you felt the other person wasn’t listening? Or perhaps they were talking over the top of you? I’ve been in this situation before, and if you’re like me it probably makes you want to ditch the conversation as soon as possible.

Situations like these are why we should all try to become better listeners. Not only can it improve productivity, but it can also strengthen your ability to influence and negotiate. Achieving this might seem a little daunting, so I’ve got some tips to help you improve.

Focus on them

Make sure you’re a part of the conversation. Instead of thinking about the movie you saw last night, or what’s going on around you, pay attention to them and actively focus on the words that come out of their mouth. By doing this, you’re allowing yourself to process what they’re saying, respond to them effectively, and also remember the conversation that you’ve shared.

Body language

You’ve probably been in a situation before where the other person wasn’t following the conversation or what you were talking about. They might’ve been staring at their phone or glancing around the room. It’s important to maintain eye contact to show that you’re listening to what someone has to say. You should also do so verbally, a simple “yes” or “uhuh” shows that you’re following along. Even a simple nod is sure to get some appreciation from them.

Let them speak

It’s important that you make an effort to avoid interrupting or speaking over the person. Not only can it frustrate the speaker, but it can make them feel like what they have to say isn’t of value. Everyone speaks at different rates, so you should always allow them to speak at their own pace.

Listening builds relationships, rapport with colleagues and makes the world a better place, by showing others that you genuinely care for what they have to say.

About the author

Catriona Pollard is the author of From Unknown To Expert, a step by step framework designed to help entrepreneurs develop effective PR and social media strategies to become recognised as influencers in their field. www.unknowntoexpert.com

Catriona is also the director of CP Communications, which merges traditional PR tactics with cutting-edge social media strategies that engage consumers as well as business. www.cpcommunications.com.au

Follow Catriona:

Twitter: @catrionapollard