How To Improve Your Listening Skills At Work
How many times have you been stuck in a meeting and zone out during a presentation or someone is speaking on a topic you have no interest in and you figure — why bother, so you end up doodling, checking your emails or hop on Instagram? But did you ever think you might have a listening problem? Probably not.
If you’re not walking out of meetings feeling inspired, productive, or accomplished, you should reevaluate your listening skills. Yes, there are a few meetings you’ll attend in your career that leave you wondering, “Why did this just happen and how do I get back the last 45 minutes of my life,” but if every meeting or gathering you attend leaves you feeling that washed out — something’s a miss and it might be due to your lack if paying attention. But you can fix all that with some self-awareness and practice. (And you can apply this to your relationships at home too).
There are two types of listening we can do, we either “listen for” or “listen with.”
- "Listening for" is the type of listening you do when you’re being receptive to ideas and open to suggestions. Someone is talking and you’re actually listening with the intent of grasping their concept, main idea, or information. The act of “listening for” will leave you with some type of insight and it’s the best type when you’re receiving feedback from a supervisor or a colleague.
- "Listening with" is the kind of listening that closes you off to what’s being said and shuts down any chance of truly having an exchange. This type of listening comes with baggage. You’re either listening with judgment, bitterness, or “fill in the blank.” You are too busy trying to get your point across that you’re missing the actual exchange and the opportunity to establish collaboration with another department, colleague, or better your relationship with your supervisor.
Now, you may be mentally flipping through situations and past meetings trying to remember which type of listener you are. Listening involves at least two people, so you want to make sure you're not creating a hostile work environment or causes rifts between coworkers. Focus on your listening skills moving foward, because you never know who will be listening when it's your time to speak.