You may have heard this quote before: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” It’s attributed to the Greek philosopher Epictetus, but it’s as applicable today as it was in the first century. We humans, apparently, have always had the tendency to speak more than we listen. But listening is such a valuable skill in personal relationships and in the workplace! Here are a few tips for becoming a better listener:
Listen more than you talk.You can’t do both at the same time, so choose the former. When you’re tempted to interject or speak over your conversation partner, consider your motive. Are you interested in communicating or pontificating?
Show that you’re listening. It’s important to maintain focus and eye contact when someone else is talking. Don’t glance at your phone or what’s on the desk in front of you. Not only does it communicate that you are interested when you focus on the person who is talking, it also keeps you focused on what the person is saying. Looking at another’s eyes and face gives us non-verbal cues that help us better understand the emotion behind the words.
Restate and ask questions. To be an active listener means to participate in the conversation. It requires that you process what the other person says, ask clarifying questions and perhaps restate what they say to ensure you understand.
The importance of listening, of course, is nothing new. In fact, it’s fun to read that business leaders were emphasizing it decades ago; check out this Harvard Business Review piece from 1957! At NetRate Systems, we pride ourselves on exceptional customer service. From initial project scoping to long-term maintenance of our solutions, we listen to you.