You’re at a networking event and you spot someone you’ve wanted to talk to. You walk over, start a conversation and then it happens. They look past you mid-sentence. This has happened to all of us and frankly, we are all guilty of it too. Being present is difficult. The demand for our attention is widespread and we are forced to juggle numerous tasks simultaneously. We are all time starved and the deficiency continues to grow.
Why is being present important? Life is about relationships. We do business with people we like. We support those we want to succeed. Relationships are about mutual respect. When you are not present during a conversation, you are saying to the other person that they are not important and their message is not important.
Active listening is an essential element of being present. Active listening is a skill that you can develop. Here are several tips to ensure you are an effective active listener.
- Watch your nonverbal communication- Ensure your physical stature is correct. Face the person talking to you, maintain eye contact.
- Wait your turn- Don’t focus on what you are going to say next. You don’t want to be the person who asks a question right after the answer was given. Focus on the speaker. Don’t interrupt.
- Remove distractions- Turn your phone on silent, stand with your back to the door. Remove all possible barriers that could prevent you from being present. If you feel yourself drifting off, make a concerted effort to pull yourself back to the moment.
- Confirm the message- Ask questions for clarity and recap what was said. Ensure that you are picking up all the nuggets from the conversation. You may be surprised at the amount of information revealed during a normal exchange. It is best to fully understand the information being presented.
Active listening increases success. You gain knowledge by paying attention. You also show respect to the speaker and you create relationships both personally and professionally. Ensure you are successful by being prepared and ready to listen.