Great listening is powerful. By listening well you understand more, you save time, and you build solid relationships.

If you had to rate your ability to listen well on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being brilliant, and 1 being poor, where would you rate yourself? How would other people rate you? You can instantly improve your listening skills by making two minor tweaks to the way you interact with people.

A powerful listening tool is the use of silence, being comfortable with silence. Silence is when people do their best thinking. If you ask a question and the person is thinking before responding, there is no need to fill the silence. In this age of constant communication, texting, liking, talking, posting, and messaging – silence is like a mini holiday. Imagine silence as a mini-break for the person you are talking to. The silence enables them to think clearly and recharge. Permitting silence in a conversation shows respect, patience and a real interest in another’s words.

You can also make use of the little phrase ‘anything else about ‘X’? (Where X is the topic the person has been talking about) When someone has said something, ask them if there is anything else about it. Often there is something else, and it can actually be the crux of the matter.

By asking anything else about ‘X’, not only do you show that you have been listening as you are reflecting back ‘X’, but you are also asking for more details.

When someone is not listening they will look to change the subject, dive in with their opinion, or leave the conversation. By asking for more detail on what the person was talking about you are showing interest, encouraging the person to think more deeply about what they are saying, and finding out more.

Sarah Alexander, Director, Vivid Communication, Coach and Trainer.