Project Leaders: Learn to Listen . . . 14 Keys to Effective Listening

A recent Internet survey by Coaching and Mentoring Associates, found the Number 1 interpersonal skill for successful project leaders to be:  Listens to others.

Below are 14 keys to effective listening that I have gathered over the years to help me be an even more powerful project leader.

  1. Limit Your Own Talking.  You can’t talk and listen at the same time.
  2. Think Like the Speaker.  His/her problems and needs are important . . . and you’ll understand and retain them better if you keep his/her point of view in mind.
  3. Ask Questions.  If you don’t understand something . . . or feel you may have missed a point . . . clear it up now before it may embarrass you later.
  4. Don’t Interrupt.  A pause . . . even a long pause . . . doesn’t always mean s/he finished saying everything s/he wanted to.
  5. Concentrate.  Focus your mind on what s/he is saying. Practice shutting out distractions.
  6. Take Notes.  This will help you remember important points.  And . . . be    selective.  Trying to jot down everything s/he says can result in being left far behind or in retaining irrelevant details.
  7. Listen For Ideas . . . Not Just Words.  You want to get the whole picture . . .       not just isolated bits and pieces.
  8. Interjections.  An occasional “Yes” . . . “I see,” . . . etc. shows the speaker you’re still with him/her . . . and don’t overdo or use as a meaningless comment.
  9. Turn Off Your Own Words.  This isn’t always easy . . . your personal fears, worries, problems not connected with this conversation, form a kind of static that can block out the speaker’s message.
  10. Prepare in Advance.  Remarks and questions prepared in advance . . . when possible . . . free your mind for listening.
  11. React to Ideas . . . Not the Person.  Don’t allow irritation at things s/he may say . . . or his/her manner to distract you.
  12. Don’t Jump to Conclusions.  Avoid making unwarranted assumptions about what the speaker is going to say . . . or mentally trying to complete his/her sentences for him/her.
  13. Listen For the Overtones.  You can learn a great deal from the speaker from the way s/he says things.
  14. PRACTICE LISTENING.  Make your conversations with your team members a learning tool for improving your listening skill . . . for sharpening your inner ear.

James L. Haner

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