They are looking for excellent written and verbal communication skills in new recruits. Unfortunately, this is a skill that is highly overlooked in traditional education, and many of us assume we are good at it because communicating is so natural.
Doing it well, however, is more difficult than it seems. When I train or teach communication skills, the most common the definition I get from groups rarely includes listening.
Listening is a vital component of good communication skills, and is often overlooked. When was the last time you practiced listening?
We hear a lot of stuff, but hearing is an involuntary act for people who are hearing able. We learn throughout our life as hearing people to “filter” out noise and listen for the good stuff.
And yet, too often we classify a lot of what we hear as noise and don’t listen effectively. As a result, you may miss instructions in class or at work, or fail to validate or acknowledge someone’s ideas or feelings.
One the most common causes for misunderstandings and conflict is poor listening.
Being able to communicate effectively isn’t just being able to deliver a message, it is also the ability to listen to and decode a message, and offer feedback to the person you with whom you are communicating. It is equally important, if not more important, than speaking.
Listening requires intentional engagement of the mind, and a willingness to be present in the moment. We get in the habit of “tuning out” people or making assumptions or judgments about what they are saying. Or we mentally prepare our response instead of listening.
There can be much more to gain from listening than speaking. Being a good listener requires practice, it is a learned behavior. Here are some Quick Tips to honing your listening skills:
- Be present
- Be open minded
- Be patient
- Listen for the hidden message
- Ask questions
- Offer feedback
- Take notes, if necessary
- Be conscientious of your body language and non-verbal communication
Take the time to practice listening, you’ll find it gets easier over time and produces unexpected benefits.