Advertising
Advertising

8 Ways To Become A Good Listener

8 Ways To Become A Good Listener

When you are spoken to do you just hear or do you actually listen? It is a common misconception that when we hear someone speak we are automatically listening to what they are saying. For example, how frustrating is it when you are talking to someone as they type away on their phone? Imagine those times when you confided in a loved one and all they did was up to you and say “Huh? Can you repeat that?”

The truth is listening is a lot like reading. It involves concentrating on what the other person is saying and grasping the full meaning and impact of their words. The best leadership experts in the world excel at this skill. A lot of times when we read something difficult we attempt to skim, or simply don’t understand what we just read. Likewise, many people who unconsciously hear rather than listen fail to grasp the gist of the conversation.

Here are eight ways you can become a good listener today:

Advertising

1. Self assess

Ask yourself, “Am I really the ____ I want to be?” Whether you are trying to become a better person, employee, husband, friend, whatever it is, listening is important. Think of ways in which you can improve yourself and go for it. Think of the role listening has in self-improvement, in understanding direction, in family life, etc. Remind yourself that it is important to listen to constructive criticism and refrain from being defensive.

2. Remove distractions

It is a known fact that humans’ brains tune out much of what is heard in the immediate environment. As a matter of fact, you are still hearing things even as you sleep. According to auditory neurologist, Seth S. Horowitz, concentrating to pay attention is what makes listening that much more difficult than just hearing. You need to realize that you cannot pay attention to everything at once. You can’t read that email from your mother and listen to your manager’s instructions at the same time. To be a good listener you have to give the person speaking your full and undivided attention.

3. It’s not about you

Becoming a better listener involves understanding that this person wants to be heard, not listen to you. Do not interrupt them. Hold on to any comments or questions until the end. Wait until this person is done speaking to begin a conversation. How are you to be well informed without the whole story? Keep this in mind and don’t start to talk until the other person is finished.

Advertising

4. Get rid of the “me too” habit

When someone tells you a story, you should share your own right? Not always. It’s like that one time you told someone you were going on vacation to India for two weeks only to have them go off on a tangent about their adventures there while studying abroad. Attempting to ‘one up’ someone’s story or cutting them to interject with your own shows the person you are speaking to that you are not interested in listening to what they have to say. Stop it and listen, just listen.

5. Watch your body language

It’s not only about listening but looking like you are listening. If you’ve found that you’ve removed all distractions and are still having a hard time digesting the conversation, think of your body language. Are you looking past the speaker? Are you fiddling with your sleeves? Don’t. Look at their face, nod a few times, lean slightly toward them and don’t cross your arms. Train yourself to listen with your whole body, not just your ears.

6. Focus on the speaker

If you are speaking to someone on the phone, turn away from your computer. If you are speaking through an online program, close your door. Likewise, if you are speaking to this person up close and personal, it is important that you make eye contact. Not only will it make them feel important, it will help you grasp the urgency of the matter.

Advertising

7. Mentally Paraphrase

OK, so not all the people we talk to have the most interesting or understandable things to say. If you find yourself having issues paying attention to what someone is saying, try mentally paraphrasing important points. Not only will this help you stay focused, it will force you to pay attention.

8. Ask relevant questions

There is no better way to show you listened than to pick up on loose ends and ask about them. Asking an open ended question or many to clear any doubts or possible misconceptions. Chances are the person speaking to you will be delighted to answer. Not only do questions open up discussion about possible flashpoints, they also allow for smoother flowing conversations.

Throughout this process, keep in mind that listening is a key process when it comes to creating meaningful relationships. People who feel like you’ve listened, are more likely to appreciate your efforts whether they be professional or simply a matter of self-improvement.

Advertising

 

Listening, really listening is difficult when there are so many distractions around us. Hopefully, using these 8 tips you’ll become known as a good listener.

Featured photo credit: flickr via flickr.com

More by this author

Joel Goldstein

Entrepeneur

How to Build Healthy Competition Between Millennial Employees? 4 Visual Merchandising Tips for the Holidays How To Succeed At Your First Sales Job 5 Signs You’re Not Meant to Be A Salesperson Follow These 4 Tips to Make Your App Millennial-Friendly

Trending in Communication

1 How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up 2 How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late 3 7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer 4 If You Think You’re in an Unhappy Marriage, Remember These 5 Things 5 Feeling Stuck in Life? How to Never Get Stuck Again

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

Advertising

How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

Advertising

A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

Advertising

Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

Advertising

How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

Read Next