The Importance of Active Listening
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak;
courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
The problem: Speaking too quickly, out of turn, off-topic
People often struggle to try to impress their bosses or manager at meetings. You want to offer keen insights into what is being discussed, but often become so focused on what you want to say, that you fail to listen to the conversation as it unfolds or progresses. You are concentrating far more of your attention on what you are going to say rather than internalizing what was being said by everyone else. When this happens, your contributions are not focused on the specific matter at hand, or they come across as shallow because you have not taken the time to analyze what has transpired in the interim. Putting your mouth into gear before engaging your brain the primary reason this happens. What can you do to ensure that you don’t suffer from or continue to suffer from this affliction?
First, let’s look at how this happens. Your thoughts are articulated, or spoken aloud, before they are completely formulated or completely hatched. This allows an opening or an opportunity for others to pick up on your idea, think them through logically and re-articulate them as their own, gaining a lot more brownie points than you will walk away with. This problem is extremely common. The solution is actually quite simple, but requires regular practice in order for it to become second nature to you.
The fix: Active listening
Listening, especially actively, is an incredibly powerful tool that people rarely use. You must first make a conscious decision to act differently at your future meetings. Resist the urge to speak up (too) early and (too) often. Remain quiet, listen carefully and contribute only when your opinion was asked for. This will take some planning and preparation on your part. Take the time to work your pre-planned strategies for listening, carefully order your thoughts and record your ideas. Offer your well thought out ideas after enough thought had taken place to ensure they were logical, ordered and worth listening to.
You will be amazed at the results when you can dial your over-enthusiastic tongue down a bit. You will feel more in control of yourself and the situation, and you will be ready with positive, well thought out contributions which will be accredited to you. This will also make meetings feel less stressful and frantic as the pressure to perform is lessened.
Listening attentively, taking time to get your thoughts together before offering a worthy contribution takes a bit of work, but the results will be well worth your time and effort.
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