How to Be a Better Listener

ProjectManager.com

Are you listening? You better be! It’s a cornerstone of communications at work, in projects and in life. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, shows you how to be a better listener.

Here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard for your reference!

how to listen better

In Review – How to Be a Better Listener

If you’re not listening to what people are saying, then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment or worse. Still, Jennifer noted that we’ve all had experiences with poor listening. For example, there’s telling the waitstaff at a restaurant what you want to eat, only to get something different delivered to your table.

In terms of work, there’s that meeting where everyone leaves with a different idea of what was communicated. It’s like playing that kids game, telephone, where you whisper a sentence into someone’s ear and they pass it on to their neighbor. At the end of the chain a very different sentence is spoken. If the message of the meeting is misunderstood, then that’s precious time wasted.

Related: Free Communication Plan Template

It’s easy to blame others for not listening, but sometimes it might be us. We shouldn’t be so quick to judge and be more open to listening. Jennifer shared the old chestnut: we have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we talk. She added that a good listener does so with ears, eyes and heart. That means that a good listener can hear things beyond the words being spoken to reach a deeper meaning. They can hear what is not being said.

how to be a better listener

Tips for Being a Better Listener

If all this sounds a bit abstract, don’t worry. Jennifer broke it down into eight practical tips you can use to be a better listener.

  1. Be Aware: Listening means being quiet. Don’t talk over others or talk too much, and always pay attention.
  2. Know Your Triggers: This is another way of saying be cognizant of your patterns. Don’t mindlessly follow them, as it gets in the way of hearing what the other person is saying.
  3. Minimize Distractions: You’re not going to hear something important if you’re in the middle of a windstorm, so make sure the environment is set up for conversation.
  4. Listen Before Replying: Don’t just speak for the sake of speaking; wait until you’re expected to give a response.
  5. Pause and Repeat: After you’ve been told something, it can help to stop, say it back and make sure that you understood it.
  6. Confirm with a Picture: If you’re more visual, it can help you comprehend what you’re being told if you use a picture, which is, after all, worth a thousand words.
  7. Observe Styles: Knowing the type of speaker you’re listening to can help you better understand what they’re saying, such as if they’re creative or logical, introverted or extroverted. It also helps to know what management style they use.
  8. Continue Learning: Listening is an informative process, and so you should never stop learning.

Pro-Tip: Listening, as noted, is key to clear communications. If you’re leading a project, good communication is an effective way to lead. Listening is part of this democratic management style, but so is being clear, concise and open to feedback.

Thanks for watching!

Transcription

Today, we’re talking about how to be a better listener. Well, I’m pretty sure that we’ve all experienced something where we felt like someone did not listen to what we were saying.

For instance, I’m sure we’ve experienced something like this. Maybe you ordered food and got the wrong order, maybe you held a meeting and people left with different ideas about what was said, or maybe you told an important story and it was repeated totally different.

Well, let’s look at what if we are the ones getting it wrong? What if we are the ones not listening? If we’re leading teams and organizations, it’s very important to listen.

So when we talk about listening, the meaning of it is to hear, but not only just to hear but to pay attention with your ears, and your eyes, and your heart. I’m sure you’ve heard of this saying, “We were given two ears and one mouth so we could listen more than we talk.”

And a good listener listens beyond the words for deeper meaning looking at tones and body language. And we’re looking for what’s not being said. So let’s look at a few tips and I would submit reminders for how to be a better listener.

Number one, be aware. Be aware when we might be talking over others. When we talk over others, we can’t listen well. Maybe talking too much and even in a conversation, checking out.

Number two, know your triggers and patterns. Know when someone says something, or you perceive a tone or maybe some body language that causes you to trigger these.

Also, minimize distractions. We can’t always, but if we’re having a one-on-one discussion or if we’re having an important meeting with our team, minimizing distractions, sounds, noises, can really help to pay attention.

Listen before replying. Sometimes we answer the wrong question.

So it benefits us to pause and repeat to confirm that we’ve even heard something correctly. And it’s okay to ask questions. Ask, “This is what I heard you say, is that really what you said?” That gives the person the opportunity to clarify what’s been said or what’s been asked.

Also, confirm with a picture if you’re visual. I, myself, am very visual, so many times, if I’m talking strategy or planning with someone, I’ll jump up to a whiteboard and draw a picture or I also carry a sketchpad and I’ll sketch out what we’re talking about because a picture truly can be worth a 1000 words.

Number seven, observe styles. Observe whether they’re more creative or more logical, or even more introverted or extroverted.

Also, continue learning. I believe self-mastery is the true key to being a good listener.

So if you need additional resources on how you can become a better listener, then visit our website at ProjectManager.com.

Related Posts

Back to Blog

Get the Best PM Tools for Your Team

Start a Free Trial