Listening – it’s the hardest skill to master

Do you ask good questions?  How easy is it for you to listen to the answers?  Guaranteed you will be distracted by your own thoughts, biases, feelings and opinions therefore you will only hear what you want to hear.

You will often be thinking about your next move or what you want to say next, or you may second guess where the other party might be leading you. To listen effectively you need to be disciplined and give your full attention to the speaker.

Active listening

By paying attention to the speaker – both to their verbal and non-verbal cues, you will be able to ask good questions and make informed assumptions about what the speaker is saying or what isn’t being said.

Give your full attention

Keep focussed on the speaker and avoid letting your attention wander.  Important pieces of information can be missed if you do not remain alert and engaged. This prevents you asking a question on what has already been explained and helps form open questions you can ask the speaker.

An easy tool during a business conversation is to jot down/type one to two words on different points to remind you of what question you will ask once the speaker completes what they are saying.  It also helps you if are asked to do a vote of thanks at the end of a presentation.  This will ensure your mind remains focused on the topic and main messages.

Confirm your understanding

Active listening and asking questions will ensure you understand what the speaker has said.  An effective tool is to summarise the information you hear, in your own words.   You can also seek clarification.   An example of a summary question is, ‘In summary, what you want from me is to…is that correct?’


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