► 3. Lean forward.
The more you physically position yourself to listen, the more you will listen. In effect, your body is saying, “I’m ready to listen. So go ahead. Give it to me.”
So lean towards the speaker, whether in person or on a virtual call. When you lean in you listen in … more effectively.
► 4. Look at the speaker.
If you look anywhere else, your mind will tend to drift in that direction. And your listening effectiveness goes way down.
For some of you, that might mean you need to put aside distractions. Anything that tempts you to look away from the speaker. That may include trying to send a text message at same time you’re listening to your colleague. Or it may mean you need to stop looking at your phone when your spouse is talking to you.
Keep your eyes on the speaker and your listening will instantly improve.
► 5. Remove physical barriers.
When there’s some “things” between you and the other person, listening can become more difficult. If you’re on a job site, for example, and there’s a piece of equipment between you and the other person, it will be harder to hear as well as pay attention.
Or if there’s a desk between you and somebody else, the desk may imply that one person is “above” the other, and that kind of discomfort will not help the listening process. One researcher found that only 11% of patients are at ease when the doctor sits behind a desk, but 55% of the patients are at ease when the desk is removed.
The physical barrier might be your hearing. If you can’t easily and clearly hear what is being said, all the listening skills in the world won’t do you much good. If you’ve got a hearing problem and something can be done about it, do it. It’s something that everyone in your life will appreciate.
Casey Stengel had to learn that. As the grand old man of baseball, he turned up in Florida one winter wearing a brand-new hearing aid. When someone asked him about it, he replied it was the best hearing aid on the market and it cost him $1500.
“My,” said the questioner. “That must be a good one. What kind is it?”
“Half past four,” replied Casey, glancing at his watch.
Final Thought: Listen as though your life, your job, and your marriage depended upon it. They actually do, more than you might imagine.