by Carol Shulte
The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your communication.
Perhaps a bit of a bold statement, and yet I believe it to be true.
When you know how to effectively express whatever it is you wish to say with your colleagues, family members, and other important people in your life, everybody wins.
So why does it sometimes seem so incredibly difficult?!?
We all want to have a voice; to be heard. And yet, are we ensuring we are dishing out what we ourselves hope to receive?
If you are looking to improve your assertive abilities, gain greater influence, and enjoy deeper persuasion, you must first master this ONE imperative skill.
Drum roll please…
You must first improve your ability to LISTEN!
I know, I know, you’ve likely heard this before. And for good reason! Although it may seem counterintuitive, once you learn to master your own listening abilities you will, in turn, be listened to in a whole new way.
Here are 3 simple, effective, and actionable ways to take your listening to the next level.
- Engage in active listening.
Are you TRULY listening? I mean, are you allowing yourself to be fully engaged in the conversation, with your eyes as well as your ears? And with your full body? Are you totally present in the conversation, or are you allowing distractions like your grocery list get in the way? It may be common sense, and yet it is not always common practice.
- Let them vent.
The reason most people vent is because they simply want to be able to express how they truly feel. And so let them vent! Research shows no one will go on longer than 90 seconds when they have something to complain about. Resist the desire to interrupt. Instead, give them the time and the space, and once they are through, they will be ready to engage in conversation.
- Ask open-ended questions
Whether it’s an important, difficult, or trivial conversation, asking questions shows the speaker you are actually engaged in the conversation. And moreover, it tells them you care about what is being said and want to learn more. Open-ended questions specifically express how well you not only listened, but heard what was said, and that you care to learn more.
So there you have it. Consciously choose to engage in active listening, allow whomever you are speaking with to get out whatever is on their mind, and ask open-ended questions.
Once you master your ability to truly listen (which some argue makes up 90% of your communication) you will not only gain greater respect within the workplace, you will also enjoy the influence, persuasion and respect you desire.
Want to learn more about improving your communication skills? Come out to my session at IAAP Summit 2017 entitled It’s Not You, It’s Me: There’s no such thing as difficult people! Register today and attend the best conference for office and administrative professionals.