A big part of being an effective team member is being a good
listener. Do you think your listening skills could use some
improving? Simply remember the LADDER to become a better listener.
||Look at the person speaking to you.
If you make eye contact, the speaker feels like he has
your undivided attention. If an individual comes into
your office to talk, stop what you're doing. When you
continue typing or staring at your computer screen,
the person talking to you feels insignificant.
||Ask questions. This
shows you're interested and that you're hearing what
||Don't interrupt. When
you interrupt, the speaker feels you're not interested
in what he's saying and will be frustrated by the inability
to finish a complete thought. Take the time to listen
just relax and open your ears!
||Don't change the subject.
Changing the subject indicates that your mind is elsewhere.
It shows you're not concentrating on what's being said
at that moment, and this makes the speaker feel insignificant.
If you change the subject, the speaker could also get
the impression that you're avoiding the topic and may
be hesitant to bring it up again.
||Empathize. When someone shares
information with you, put yourself in his shoes. Doing
this will allow the two of you to discover solutions
more easily and will also help you appreciate a perspective
different from your own.
||Respond verbally and non-verbally.
Using an enthusiastic tone shows you're interested in
what the speaker is saying. Smiling helps too! Avoid
crossing your arms since this can be interpreted as
being closed off. If you're speaking with someone who's
sitting, you should sit too. Standing over someone is
too authoritative and may make the other person feel
If you're unsure whether you're a good listener
or not, simply take the following test. In your next meeting or conversation,
make a mental note or, even better, jot down on a piece of paper the number
of times you interrupt. The fewer marks there are on your paper, the better
listener you are! This seems like a silly test, but you may be surprised by
the quantity of marks on your paper. After all, the worst listeners usually
aren't aware that their listening skills need some attention or improvement.