Someone once coined the phrase ‘active listening’.
They said that to be a good communicator you had to be able to talk fluently, in a way that could be understood, you had to be able to write in the same way but also you had to be able to listen and interpret messages you heard.
Therefore, they said, ‘active listening’ is a skill to learned and applied, just like any other.
Of course, they are right.
When my Mum calls me during the day, my active listening skills seem to be lacking. I’m still looking at my emails and hoping that I say ‘yes’ in the right places. It doesn’t always work, like the time she was telling me about her friends dogs lumbago and how it made the poor creature’s breath smell and I said, in all innocence, ‘Oh, that’s really good.’
Which kind of gave a clue that I wasn’t really listening very hard at all, a fact which my Mum, quite rightly, reprimanded me about at great length.
Still, if it’s not one thing, it’s your mother!
Anyway, back to ‘active listening’…
I was reminded about it because I saw an advert for a two day course covering only… you’ve guessed it… Active Listening!
I have something that’s just as good, to remind you to listen actively, especially when talking to your Mum, or even your customers, if you prefer.
Here goes. It’s all based around the mnemonic LISTEN. (See what I did there?)
L = Look Interested: because if you look interested you force yourself to be interested
I = Inquire with questions: okay, a bit dodgy, but make sure you get the message
S = Stay on track: it’s easy to get side tracked, so make sure you keep the conversation on the subject
T = Test understanding: summarise every so often. It proves you’ve been listening
E = Evaluate the message: do some analysis to work out what is actually being said
N = Neutralise your feelings: ‘cos the biggest barrier to active listening is you thinking this guy’s a fool
There you go… a two day course encapsulated into thirty seconds. And you didn’t even have to pay £500 (plus) VAT to get it.
You see: Enterprise Britain; informative and value for money!