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Improving Listening Skills  - Do You Have Any of These Negative Listening Habits?

Improving listening skills helps you be a better leader, sales person, family member and friend.  Having a great role model, seeing if you do any of the six negative listening habits and using the four step model I outline for you – will get you there.

Improving listening skills and avoiding the six negative listening habits can help you to become a charismatic leader or sales person and help you can really help your family & friends.

A Story:  Why Improving Listening Skills Matters

It was summer time in 1992. I had taken a long weekend to attend my ten year high school reunion in Columbia, S.C., my home town. I was happy to see my high school buddies. But when I wasn’t laughing and partying, I was worrying so much about my career that I wasn't sleeping very well. 

You see I needed to decide whether to leave my current stable but boring job for a riskier, but more interesting, opportunity.  I wanted to make the right decision, but I had no idea what that was.

As I was having breakfast with one of my best, longest known, friends. I tried to talk through what was bothering me.  Before I shared much about what was going on she jumped in, offered advice and then changed the subject so we could talk about her job.  

Her advice wasn’t helpful. I didn’t mind though because we’d been friends since 3rd grade and she’d always be my best friend. But I still felt confused and worried about what to do. 

That night, once again, I got little sleep.

A Great Listener Role Model...

Improving listening skills and avoiding the six negative listening habits can help you to become a charismatic leader or sales person and help you can really help your family & friends.

Before the weekend was over I stopped by to visit Mary Lou, my college roommate’s mother.  She had been very good to us when we were in school and I liked talking to her.

She asked me how things were going. I brought her up to speed and then I briefly mentioned my current concerns and worry about my career.  I wasn't planning on our having a detailed conversation about it, but because she seemed so interested and she asked me so many questions, I talked and shared more than I had had a chance to do with anyone else.  

She didn’t seemed rushed or impatient as she listened. She just asked more questions in her attempt to understand what I thought, how I felt and what was going on.   And as she tuned into what I was saying with a sincere desire to understand without interrupting me to offer advice, in less than 15 minutes I felt better then I’d felt in weeks.

Something great had just happened. My decision was now clear to me - I would make the change and try the new career opportunity.   All of sudden I knew EXACTLY what I needed to do.

Listening is often the only thing needed to help someone.

Improving Listening Skills: Do You Have Any of These Negative Listening Habits?

Improving listening skills is something people talk about and think about, but rarely ever get around to actually improving.  Mary Lou's example, all those years ago, has always stuck with me and has inspired me to try to be a good listener, just like her.

They say that it's smart to teach what you want to learn, and over the years I've taught leaders, sales people and interviewers key steps for improving listening skills.   One way to get better is awareness around bad habits.  Take this simple quiz, below, to determine if you do any of these Negative Listening Habits.

Rate Yourself:

Six Negative Listening Habits:

3 - Oops! That's Me!
2 - Sometimes Me.
1 -
Never Me.
        ______

Faker:  All the outward signs are there: nodding, making eye contact giving the occasional uh-huh. However, the faker isn’t concentrating on the speaker. His mind is elsewhere.

3 - Oops! That's Me!
2 - Sometimes Me.
1 -
Never Me.

        _______

The Interrupter: The interrupter doesn’t allow the speaker to finish and doesn’t ask clarifying questions or seek more information from the speaker. He’s too anxious to speak his words and shows little concern for the speaker.

3 - Oops! That's Me!
2 - Sometimes Me.
1 -
Never Me.
       _______

The Happy Hooker:  The happy hooker uses the speaker’s words only as a way to get to his message. When the speaker says something, and frankly it could be anything, the happy hooker steals the focus and then changes to his own point of view, opinion, story or facts. Favorite hooker lines are, “Oh that’s nothing, here’s what happened to me...”, “ I remember when I was...”

3 - Oops! That's Me!
2 - Sometimes Me.
1 -
Never Me.
       _______

The Advice Giver: Giving advice is sometimes helpful; however, at other times, this behavior interferes with good listening, because it does not allow the speaker to fully articulate his feelings or thoughts; it doesn’t help the speaker solve his own problems; it prohibits venting; it could also belittle the speaker by minimizing a concern with a quick solution.   Well-placed advice is an important function in selling and leading. However, advice given too quickly, and at the wrong time, is a turnoff to the speaker.

3 - Oops! That's Me!
2 - Sometimes Me.
1 -
Never Me.
      _______

Rebuttal-Maker: This listener only listens long enough to form a rebuttal. His point is to use the speaker’s words against him. At his worst, he is argumentative and wants to prove you wrong. At the least, this person always wants to make the speaker see his point of view.

3 - Oops! That's Me!
2 - Sometimes Me.
1 -
Never Me.
       _______

The Intellectual or Logical Listener: This person is always trying to interpret what the speaker is saying and why. He’s judging the speaker’s words and trying to fit them into his logic box. He rarely asks about the underlying feeling or emotion attached to a message.


Scoring Recap: What's Your Score?

  •  Total =      6  - You are a good listener.
  •  Total =  7 -10 - Sometimes you are a good listener. See the resource links, next.
  •  Total = 11 -18 - You've got some negative habits. See the resource links, next.

"The greatest compliment that was ever paid me
was when one asked me what I thought, and
attended to my answer."
Henry David Thoreau

Improving Listening Skills:  Resource Links

If you are focused on improving your listening skills, pay attention to any of the negative listening habits that you got a 2 or 3.   (I know you know which ones you tend to do because as you read the description you thought to yourself, "Ouch, that's me." - didn't you?)  

Make a decision to change that habit, now that you have a name for it!  You aren't the Happy Hooker, are you?

Resources:

  • Learn more about Listening Aggressively, which is to:  Hear with determination and energetic pursuit. It is demonstrating a desire to understand by listening with no agenda other than to understand. Charismatic Leadership - A Listening Aggressively Article.
  • Begin improving listening skills IMMEDIATELY by using my four-step process (the Acronym for easy recall is: R.P.S.A.).  See the four steps and listen to an audio example, here.  It works, it REALLY works!
  • Check out our Essential Leadership Performance Tools workshops, here.
  • Do you wonder what others really think about your communication skills and listening skills?  Are you unsure about your strengths and development opportunities?  Consider a 360 Feedback Survey to find out.  

Contact us for a complimentary consulting call to discuss this in more detail.

Focus on listening aggressively and you
will be
improving your listening skills.
Listening Aggressively means that you are
focused on hearing in a determined and energetic way.  
When you are doing this well you demonstrate your desire to understand by asking questions and listening with no agenda,
other than to understand.



Contact Us To Schedule a Complimentary Consulting Call or to Ask Questions

Get More Improving Listening Skills Insight,
Go to Charismatic Leadership - The Forgotten Skill


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