Being a poor listener is not an indication of your care for others, but it can certainly affect collaboration and relationships. Of caring individuals, I believe a major listening hang-up is their desire to help too quickly. It’s for this reason I developed a simple method for you to become a better listener and boost collaboration in only 2 minutes.
This topic came up in former podcast guest Khe Hy‘s RadReads community recently— I quickly remembered years ago I was the world’s worst listener. In my excitement to help others or feed them intellectual nutrition, I would spill everything I knew, for minutes on end—not listening to a word they said.
I’d blurt out advice so as not to forget, or miss my opportunity to help. I wanted to move the conversation along and give them a quick answer, but there was a problem. My wisdom usually missed the mark for an obvious reason: I didn’t truly listen to the whole conversation and missed the nuances of a conversation. That cost me.
Why people suck at listening and the damage it causes
High empathy, poor listeners simply want to help quickly. As you speak, the second they think they have the full story, they begin thinking of solutions and what they want to say next. Because no one is a great multi-tasker, this means they are inside their own head—instead of listening. What does this look like?
- Cutting people off
- Asking to repeat things.
- Rambling stories and rabbit trails.
A failure to listen to others is also a failure to truly collaborate or create. The best ideas in the world come from expert listeners who truly absorb their surroundings, waiting to hear the full context of a problem. When we don’t listen we miss critical comments that we’d otherwise miss.
In my personal experience, quick comments from clients (in many cases lasting less than 2 seconds) contain insightful breakthroughs I use to truly crack their problems. This has led to bigger accomplishments, happier clients for Cultivate, better emerging tech PR communications plans, and more satisfying client relationships.
How to become a better listener
The most effective way I have discovered that boosts listening power, is also the simplest. If you are one of those who struggle to listen and have a big heart for others, you only need a notebook to permanently fix this issue.
Whenever you’re having a conversation, simply write down your reaction, idea, or what you want to say on that notebook, without saying it. If you want to respond to something said, but don’t want the moment to go by, simply write down the statement said and come back to it later. It’s not a bad thing to write when someone’s talking.
Writing down statements, or even asking someone to pause while you write down a question or something they said isn’t a turn-off, it’s an active demonstration you care about their contribution to the conversation and value them as an individual. Even going back to ideas or things said prior, is a further demonstration you were listening, and interested in their perspective. There’s no wrong side for the listener in this scenario.
I guarantee, this simple method of writing down statements, ideas, questions and/or reactions is an effective method and how to become a better listener.