Listening effectively is not easy. How often do you find yourself in a conversation and not completely concentrating on what your partner is saying?
How good are your listening skills?
Take a look at the ten simple questions below and assess how good your listening skills are. Be honest with yourself.
- As soon as you think you know what your partner wants to say you turn off and stop listening (jumping to conclusions)
- You spend the time used by your partner to prepare your next comment (rehearsing)
- You only concentrate when you expect that the point will be of direct interest to you (filtering)
- You expect to disagree so you only listen for weaknesses (judging)
- You continue nodding in agreement although your thoughts are on something else (dreaming)
- You refer everything to your own experience and compare what you did / would have done (comparing)
- You start thinking about the possible solutions before your partner has finished outlining the issue (solving)
- You don’t give your partner room to build their argument and start to discuss before the speaker is ready (interrupting)
- You think you / your work / your team are being criticized and jump in to block the supposed attack (defending)
- You agree politely to whatever your partner says so that you can move on to the next subject (placating)
Improving your listening skills awareness with ALF
Now next time you are talking with someone be aware of your internal listening behaviors. Focus on listening to them. A simple trick to improve your listening skills is to remember ALF:
Always Listen First
And finally here’s a tip from Lars, a project lead for an automotive manufacturer. I met Lars a few years ago when he was a participant in a Virtual Teams seminar we ran. A few months ago I bumped into him at a train station. He told me that he’d bought himself a key ring of ALF, the character from the 1980s comedy show. Just so he wouldn’t forget to Always Listen First.
Let us know what has worked for you in the comments area below.