Can You Hear Me Now? 5 Ways to Become a Better Listener

Allison Babb, from

13 September 2007

As we set our congregations free to be ministers in the wider community, we quickly learn that the most important skill we all need is not knowing what to say, but knowing how to listen -- really listen. The following short article by Allison Babb taken from is written for a secular audience, but the principles are Kingdom principles!

- Howard Webb, coordinator of Love Your Neighbour and website administrator

Years ago, I was meeting with one of my managers and in the middle of the conversation I said "Hey, I just had a great idea while you were saying that!" Then I realized that I just conveyed that I was not listening to a word he was saying. I was busy coming up with my own ideas as he was talking.

George Bernard Shaw once said that "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." :-) Poor listening skills is such a common mistake when we are in communication with others in the workplace. We think we are listening but we are not really. In this article are 5 ways in which you can become a better listener. Enjoy! :-)

Address the white elephant: A manager who reported to me showed up for his 1-on-1 with me and was clearly upset. We started talking about projects etc. then I just had to stop. I put down my pen and paper and empathetically said "Tom, you seem very frustrated. Can we step outside of this conversation for a minute and talk about what maybe upsetting you?" He opened up at that point and we had a very good conversation. Sometimes it's worth it to put aside the normal routine and address the unspoken issue you may be ignoring in the course of conversation.

Stop and focus: Try this exercise with the next person who you are in conversation with. Lean forward and purposefully concentrate on what they are saying to you. You will notice the person's communication with you will change because they feel like they are genuinely being heard.

Not all about you: Sometimes in our attempt to show that we are listening, we launch in with our own story that is similar to what the person is sharing. If done too often in a conversation, this can come across as a bit self-centered. Great listening skills is focused on the person conveying the information vs the person receiving it.

Turn assumptions into questions: When we are listening to someone and we believe they have some hidden agenda, it is difficult to listen. Instead of filling your mind with second-guessing thoughts as they are speaking, make an effort to hear what they are saying and ask probing questions to draw out their underlying motives. You may even find that it is not what you originally thought.

Find your intent: And lastly, Stephen Covey, author of "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" says that some people listen with the intent to reply and others listen with the intent to understand. It's worth pondering..... what is your intent for your next conversation?

Allison_Babb_93701.jpgAllison Babb is author, speaker, trainer, and leadership coach who teaches leaders at all levels 3 secrets to becoming a top manager in their company. Allison has combined her degree in Business Administration, over 15 years of senior management experience and the art of professional coaching to deliver truly masterful leadership coaching and training to managers at all levels.
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