Listening has been positive influences the ability to solve problems and, above all, builds trust. By listening, we can better understand the people with whom we have contact and support them more effectively.

How to become a good listener?

Above all, it is worth realizing that listening is a gift. By listening, we devote our time and attention to others. It is a skill that everyone can learn. We know from experience that listening is important in both personal and professional relationships. It is the foundation of success, as it helps to improve efficiency, creativity and the ability to express ideas.

What do you know about listening?
Decide by yourself whether the following statements are true or false:

  1.  People who know the facts are good listeners.
  2. Listening involves not only ears.
  3.  Hearing is the same as listening.
  4. The ability to listen well comes naturally when we focus our attention.
  5.  You can listen well and do other things at the same time.
  6. Body posture affects listening.
  7. In most cases, distraction during listening can be controlled.
  8. If you do not remember something, you have not listened carefully.
  9. Listening is a passive activity. Good listeners never interrupt.

 

This is how we see answers to these questions in the Business Analysis department at Craftware

  1. People who know the facts are good listeners.
    False. Facts are only a part of most messages. Good listeners listen to opinions, emotions, and distortions. Business Analyst listens to needs, gaps, and wishes.
  2.  Listening involves not only ears.
    Truth. To listen well, open your eyes, use reason, heart and intuition. Apply techniques of active listening.
  3. Hearing is the same as listening.
    False. Hearing is the first step, but you also have to interpret, evaluate, and respond to a message. As a person who does business analysis, you must understand!
  4. The ability to listen well comes naturally when we focus our attention.
    False. Focusing attention is important, but you also need to understand the message, and you must care for the person and/or message. Without active listening, you only hear what the speaker shares with you.
  5. You can listen well and do other things at the same time.
    False. Many people are proud of being able to do many tasks at once, but the more you try to do at the same time, the more you distract your attention. Good listening is associated with focusing attention.
  6. Body posture affects listening.
    Truth. Your body, mind and spirit work together. If you are leaned and hunched, such signals are sent to the mind and spirit. Remind yourself of the admonitions of your parents and teachers: “Sit straight and listen!” Remember about cultural and personal differences.
  7. In most cases, distraction during listening can be controlled.Truth. Most people can do it, but not everyone. If you’re distracted, mention it, change position or do something about it. If nothing helps, ignore it.
  8. If you do not remember something, you have not listened carefully.
    False. Yes, memory is the “shell” of listening, but you may need to remember something for only a short time. A person responsible for business analysis should take notes or ask someone else to do this.
  9. Listening is a passive activity.
    False. Listening is not passive. Your pupils dilate, your hands sweat, and your body is straight. Your mind is active and attention is focused.
  10. Good listeners never interrupt.
    False. If you do not understand what the speaker said, interrupt him politely and ask for clarification. Otherwise, you will not understand what will be said later. Use the active listening techniques that help to understand the message.

 

Four key elements of listening

Listening is not just about receiving messages and information. It is a process that consists of four elements:

  1. Hear the message
  2. Interpret the message
  3. Assess the message
  4. Reply to the message

 

What is active listening?

In order to listen actively, all your attention should be directed to the speaker. This means that the listener should show interest in every word and empathize with the speaker. To achieve this, focus on the speaker and actively encourage them to open up. The listener’s task is to collect insights and understand the speaker’s point of view, which is why it is necessary to create opportunities for them to think and speak. It is worth to cut yourself from the outside world for this time.

Listening is also a form of learning. Paraphrasing the famous statement “As long as you speak, you only repeat what you already know. Only when you listen, you have the chance to learn something new.” It is important to respect the speaker’s views and experience and pay attention to their body language. Also as the listener, you should use your body language feeling comfortable without saying anything. It is worth remembering that the intention of the listener should be to understand the speaker, not only listen. That is why it is worth summarizing their ideas in response.

The most important thing is not to judge when listening. The listener should be open to new ideas, perspectives and possibilities, avoiding criticism and quarrels. You should overcome any assumptions and not “sell” your point of view right away, neither offer a solution to the problem, nor advise “by force”. First of all, it’s worth showing that you have an open mind. Being patient pays off.

It’s worth using active listening techniques. They include:

  • Asking open questions
  • Asking explanatory questions
  • Asking inquisitive questions
  • Asking “why?”
  • Mirroring
  • Paraphrasing
  • Summarizing
  • Recognizing
  • Sharing your thoughts and feelings
  • The “Colombo” technique

 

Basic techniques for active listening

 

Asking open questions

This technique is helpful to start a conversation or a new topic. Questions should be open and short – it is best to use 5 words or even less, if possible. Here are some examples of open questions:

  • How do you process customer complaints?
  • What is your business goal?
  • What is behind this?
  • What types of reports do you need?

 

Asking explanatory questions

his technique is helpful to clear up misunderstandings, define problems, but also to stimulate accuracy and precision. Such questions should be open. Here are some examples of explanatory questions:

  • Something escaped me, could you repeat?
  • Do I understand correctly that you are talking about …?
  • I am not sure if I understand correctly. Could you can explain it in another way??

 

Asking inquisitive questions

This technique is helpful to initiate reflection and thoughtful response. It also helps in developing a solution to the problem. These questions should also be open, but well worded. Here are some examples of inquiring questions:

  • What are the exact steps that need to be followed? Could you give a few examples?
  • Which elements of the current solution can be used to solve your problem?
  • What are the consequences if we do not implement this improvement?
  • Are you aware that we need to increase the budget if we add new requirements to the scope of the project?

 

Asking “why?”

This technique is useful for increasing the accuracy and precision of the information heard. In addition, it helps in discovering details that the speaker may not be aware of. Questions do not necessarily start with “why”. Examples are the following questions:

  • What is behind this form? (= “Why do you have to fill it?”)
  • What question do you want this report to answer? (= “Why do you need this report?”)

 

Mirroring

Mirroring is helpful to confirm ideas and summarize the topics raised during the conversation. In this way, the listener also allows the speaker to think about what has been said. Using this technique, the listener repeats what the speaker said, using almost the same words, for example:

  • Let me repeat your ideas: ….
  • Here’s how I understand what you said: …

 

Paraphrasing

This technique helps to confirm ideas and summarize topics raised during the conversation. Using this technique, the listener repeats what the speaker said in his own words. Below are some examples of introducing paraphrases:

  • If I understand correctly, your main goal is to simplify the process.
  • What I hear is that you have to send this form to someone in the finance department.
  • Let me make sure you say that the most important step in this process is …
  • It seems to me that you have doubts about the budget.

 

Summary

This technique is helpful for summarizing the topics covered in the conversation. It can also be used to highlight key ideas, clarify responsibilities and plan further steps. The summary consists of key topics, ideas and actions with the listener’s comments. Here are some examples of how you can start the summary:

  • It seems that the main points that we discussed in this conversation are: ….
  • To make sure we are on the same page, we have so far agreed to: ….

 

Recognizing

This technique is helpful to recognize the inner character of the speaker and strengthen it. In this way, the listener shows how he sees the speaker and emphasizes the value of their words. Recognition must be honest and true. Here are some examples:

  • I’m impressed by your involvement in this project.
  • Your idea of improvement has facilitated the process. This was difficult to achieve with an earlier approach.

 

Sharing your thoughts and feelings

This technique is helpful to understand the perspective of the other person, make suggestions and plan further steps. Sharing your thoughts and feelings is part of the conversation, but remember that the goal of the listener is to understand the other person, and only then to be understood. Examples:

  • Can I share something similar?
  • I am glad that you are thinking about the solution, which I also think is the most effective.

 

The “Colombo” Technique

This technique allows the listener to encourage the speaker to say something more. Detective Colombo always repeated one word said by the speaker to get more information. Below is an example of such dialogue:

– I need to prepare a composite report for my supervisor.
– Composite report?

– Yes, it contains information about all meetings conducted by the sales department during the month.
– Month?
– Yes, this is a monthly report that I prepare manually.
– Manually?

 

10 tips on how to become a great listener

You can start using all the above techniques immediately. Some are easier to use, others will require a longer practice. However, there are some simple tips on how to become a great listener.

1. Take notes.
They help in understanding and remembering.

2. Listen now, report later.
Plan to tell someone what you heard; then you will remember it better.

3. Want to listen.
To be a good listener, you must want to be, be interested, focused and have self-discipline.

4. Stay present.
Watch out for the tendency to go astray.

5. Expect perfection.
More often, we get good information when we expect it.

6. Listen with the whole body.
Listen with your ears, eyes, heart, intuition and mind.

7. Build relationships by mirroring the speaker.
To create a comfortable communication, imitate gestures of the interlocutor, his way of speaking and tone of voice.

8. Control your “hot buttons”.
Getting to know what makes you react emotionally is the key to preventive action.

9. Control the distraction.
Controlling internal and external distractions helps in effective management of the work environment.

10. Offer the gift of listening.
Listening is a skill as well as a gift. Share it generously.

 

Bibliography

  1. Diana Bonet “The Business of Listening: A Practical Guide to Effective Listening”
  2. George Hallenbeck “Lead 4 Success: Learn The Essentials Of True Leadership”
  3. Bill Hasson “Brilliant Communication Skills”
  4. Bill Hoogterp “Your Perfect Presentation: Speak in Front of Any Audience Anytime Anywhere and Never Be Nervous Again”
  5. Laura Whitworth “Co-Active Coaching, 3rd Edition: Changing Business, Transforming Lives”

 

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