What’s your listening sin?
“Know how to listen, and you will profit even from those who talk badly“
Plutarch (46 AD – 120 AD)
I believe I’m a good listener. Most of us do, don’t we? Effective listening isn’t rocket science and most of us can reel off exactly what we should be doing to show we are listening, but in practice, so much can get in the way can’t it?
When I deliver coaching skills programmes for managers we “confess our listening sins” in a light hearted way and then seriously commit to keeping them front of mind in order to address them.
Here are some of the obstacles to effective listening:
- Being distracted by something seemingly more exciting going on nearby such as hearing your name mentioned
- Deciding that you’ve heard this message so many times before
- Hearing something that clashes with your values, beliefs, or opinions
- Thinking about something you’d rather be doing or somewhere you’d rather be
- Preparing your response
- Telling people what you would do if you were them, or were in their situation even when they haven’t asked you to
- Finishing off the other person’s sentence for them in your own head or even out loud
In order to develop and maintain effective listening skills we need to constantly check in with ourselves and consciously practice them.
So, it’s time to ‘fess up! What listening sins are you guilty of and what strategies do you use to stay focused on the speaker and what they are saying?