Watch Your Tone When Listening

Published: Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My face said it all.  I wasn’t paying attention.  How soon can they be finished with their monologue of discontent and discouragement. 

Lately, I have been observing characteristics of others as they listen or attempt to.  Whether it is a meeting or a 1:1 conversation, we all may need to do a little self reflection or at least pretend that someone is recording us.  Here are some of the latest visual queues of poor listening that I have seen:

  • The Eye Roller - Usually done in meetings.
  • The Fidgeter - Shows signs of anxiety or nervousness about the talk.  Leaders pay attention here as it may be an opportunity to encourage or reassure.
  • The Downcast Look - Oh woe is me.  My troubles are much more relevant than anything you have to say.  I am not hearing anything coming out of your mouth.
  • The Plastered Smile - This is the fake it approach to listening, where more emphasis is placed upon the outward visual than tuning into the person talking
  • The Annoyed - Why bother me.  This is a waste of my time.

Here are a few techniques to visibly improve how you listen:

  • Make eye contact - It helps to focus your attention on them.
  • Take notes in a meeting - I have found that this actually increases peoples perception of your participation in silence.
  • Empathize with the other person’s view - By doing this you will forget about your problems and just focus on theirs
  • Put away your phone or laptop - The World Cup match is probably not that important

What ways do you work to become an active listener?