Thursday, December 17, 2009

Active Listening

I recently took some training on Interview techniques and Active Listening.  It was an eye opener to say the least!!

The difference it makes when someone is really listening and paying attention vs that same person doing something else while you are speaking makes an amazing difference to the speaker.  Much more than I thought - if you don't believe me try this little exercise with someone yourself.
  1. Write down two different topics.  The first one should be one that you are passionate about and could speak about for hours if given the chance.  For the second topic, choose something that you really don't care about and/or have no interest in.
  2. Get a little timer (60seconds should do) and have someone sit close to you.
  3. You are first going to speak about the topic that interests you ... however the person you are speaking to should not be paying attention to you ... they can doodle on a piece of paper, answer their phone, check emails and speak to someone else.  See how long you last and can keep on speaking about your chosen topic before you completely lose your train of thought and start to wander yourself ... I doubt you'll make it to the 60second mark if the other person is ignoring you properly!
  4. Now choose the topic that doesn't interest you.  The person you are speaking to should actively listen however ... they will be questioning you and showing a keen interest in what you are saying.  I bet that you'll find you have a lot more to say about this second topic than you thought you did and that it will be a lot more enjoyable!
This is a small example of the power that another person has.  Remember it when you are interviewing other people, when you are giving your staff an appraisal or doing a 1-1 with them.  You need to be paying full attention and not letting distractions get in your way as you will be doing yourself and the person you are speaking to a severe disservice.
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