By Andy Beaubien, BPR.
The art of listening is a skill that will benefit you in every aspect of your life — and one of the very few skills that can benefit you everywhere, all of the time.
Being present, or “mindfulness” as some people refer to it, is a hot topic and even taught in business schools. Some of the best executives in the world share success stories tied to how they are present in their meetings. They do not appear distracted. They do not appear to be wishing they were somewhere else. They are focused. They are attentive. They are listening to the people in the room, processing information and adding value to the conversation.
1. Look the Person in the Eye. If you’re meeting with someone in person, look them in the eye. If you’re on a call, make it a video call. You are easily more focused when you can see the person and how they respond to you.
2. Summarize Key Points and Build on Them. When you’re focused and listening you should be able to build on ideas that are being discussed. Summarize a key point that someone just said and add something valuable to it.
3. Resist the Desire to Monopolize the Conversation. Too often we enter into a meeting knowing what points we want to get across and we will do anything to make it happen. This is not a good way to enter a meeting. Rather than having four to five points, enter into a conversation with one point and three to four questions to ask. By doing so you will end up talking less and listening more.
4. Don’t Judge: Nobody Benefits When You Do. Another thing we do too often is quickly judge the other people in the room. Everyone can have a point and everybody has the opportunity to provide value. Focus on what is being said and whether there is something to learn. Don’t worry about how the message is being delivered or by whom; focus on the message itself. If you aren’t judging the people in the room, they won’t feel the need to judge you back.
Listening is an art form. Turn off the distractions and focus on what is right in front of you. If you are successful, your meetings will be that much more productive.