So, how do we become a better listener? Years ago, when I was working as the Training Director for a large Fortune 500 corporation, I came across this great acronym for the word “LISTEN”. Try it in your next one-on-one situation with someone at work, or with your spouse.
L = Look at the speaker. Make sure he or she knows that you are engaged in the conversation.
I = Ignore other distractions. The world is constantly competing for our attention. Focus on the conversation.
S = Summarize. If in a lengthy conversation, pause a few times to rephrase back to the speaker what he or she is saying. This will assist in making sure you understand what is meant, and will dramatically increase his or her confidence that you really are listening. But don’t overdo it.
T = Take notes. When I am speaking to someone, and follow up is required, my confidence level goes up that the actions will actually get done if I see the person taking notes.
E = Emotional Control. If something is said with which you do not agree, do not tune the person out and start talking to yourself in your head. You will probably miss an important point
N = Nonverbal. Do your nonverbal actions show that you really are not listening? Arms folded, looking at your watch repeatedly, staring into space, frowning, etc. These all tell the speaker that you are not interested, and that you really don’t care, or agree with, what is being said. 55% of communication is nonverbal (what we don’t say), while 35% is voice (the way we speak), and only 10% is actually verbal (or the words that are actually being said!).
As Dr. Lang stated in our workshop, often times we complain about someone else, and how “they just don’t understand!” 80% of the time, the problem is us, and not them. Try this technique, and see if your miscommunications and frustrations are decreased. Listening is the first step to improving any relationship.