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.
- Limit Your Own Talking. You can’t talk and listen at the same time.
- 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.
- 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.
- Don’t Interrupt. A pause . . . even a long pause . . . doesn’t always mean s/he finished saying everything s/he wanted to.
- Concentrate. Focus your mind on what s/he is saying. Practice shutting out distractions.
- 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.
- Listen For Ideas . . . Not Just Words. You want to get the whole picture . . . not just isolated bits and pieces.
- 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.
- 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.
- Prepare in Advance. Remarks and questions prepared in advance . . . when possible . . . free your mind for listening.
- React to Ideas . . . Not the Person. Don’t allow irritation at things s/he may say . . . or his/her manner to distract you.
- 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.
- Listen For the Overtones. You can learn a great deal from the speaker from the way s/he says things.
- 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