It is important to listen effectively to respond appropriately. You cannot do that without careful thought and consideration.
“You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion”.
This is a saying that I’ve heard from various classes on leadership, but I think that it is very important. You should spend more time listening than talking. At least Twice as much time listening as you do speaking.
Wait until the other person is done speaking before formulating a response.
How often do you start thinking about how you’re going to respond after the other person’s first 3 words? I do it too, and it is hard to remind myself to listen to all of what is being said before doing anything else.
Consider the Other Person’s Motivations
The more you can understand why the other person is saying what they are saying, the better your chance of really getting WHAT they are saying. Many times, the context is critical, and what has gone before is equally important. To really Listen Effectively, you have to consider the context.
Put Distractions Down and Away
I’ve found that I do not listen well when I am doing other things. Put the distractions down. Lock the computer. Put your eyes on the person speaking to you. Put all of your attention into listening. Cell phones, computers, and other activities mean that you’re trying to multitask when listening. That means that you aren’t really listening effectively. You may think that you’re making good use of your time, but the human brain doesn’t work that way.
Listen Deliberately to Listen Effectively
Above all else. Listen deliberately in order to listen effectively. As with most other things in life, you have to be methodical and intentional about what you’re doing, in order to do them well. Do not let listening be something that you happen to do, and maybe retain a small part of it. Stop, and listen. Think.