Despite being told from a young age to listen attentively – many of us in our professional and personal lives still have trouble really listening.
One study even shows that the average person listens with only 25 percent efficiency – meaning there's a lot we're letting go in one ear and out the other. On top of that, a recent study from George Washington University showed that listening can influence up to 40% of a leader’s job performance.
So, what is it that good listeners to differently that allow them to excel?
1. They focus on the conversation
One thing that a lot of us do is think about what we're going to say next. How many times have you been in a meeting and have been thinking about how to word your next sentence?
It's incredibly distracting, and good listeners are able to be entirely present in the moment – paying attention to what each person in the conversation is really saying.
2. They put their phone away
Okay, so yes it's common sense to put your phone away when you're having an important conversation – but it's not uncommon to get bored of a conversation and whip your phone out to check the time. Or, if you're in a long meeting that isn't too stimulating, you might check your phone and email from time to time. The problem with this is it removes you from the importance of the conversation in its entirety and stops the act of listening attentively.
3. They're empathetic
Empathy is something everyone should learn. Empathy is the experience of understanding another person's condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling. Good listeners are incredibly capable of being empathetic.
4. They ask good questions
If you're listening attentively, you should be able to ask good questions. These are the types of questions that dig deeper into the matter at hand – they're the ones that really get to the meat of a discussion.
5. They use positive body language
Good listeners are aware of their gestures and how they're perceived. If the conversation is important, they'll lean in with wide shoulders. Good listeners are enthusiastic when listening, and feel as though they really have something they can learn from whomever it is that's speaking.