The biggest communication problem is that we don’t listen to understand, we listen to reply.

This week we’re going to talk about listening again. Why? Because we frequently receive feedback that communication, and especially listening skills, are areas that require work.

While participating in a conversation, conference call, feedback session, or having any dialogue at all, are you truly listening?

An informal poll was conducted asking “Do You Listen To Reply”?  Meaning, does preparing your response take priority over hearing the whole “story”. Are you concentrating so much on your reply that you stopped listening?

-50% of the respondents admitted that sometimes they focused on their reply
-Another 33% admitted it was rare, but they too concentrated more on their reply than on what was being said.

Dr. Ralph Nichols has conducted numerous listening studies and has found that we spend 40 percent of our day listening to others, but retain just 25 percent of what we hear. We’re missing out on a lot!

Leadership consultant Andy Eklund provides the following tips:

1. Get rid of outside distractions.
2. Open your mind. Don’t judge. Only listen.
3. Listen for the big picture, not the details
4. Note, but don’t judge, non-verbal communications.
5. Do not jump to conclusions or interrupt.
6. Paraphrase the big picture, then add in details.
7. Challenge yourself first. It’s very possible you may disagree. If so, ask yourself Under what circumstance might this be true?

Listening may not include having a dialogue. Sometimes the person speaking has the sole intent to share or vent. Feel honored to be a sounding board and realize that no reply may be your best action!

Do you listen to understand?