1. Decide to listen. Close your mind to clutter and noise and look at the person speaking with you. Give them your undivided attention.
2. Don’t interrupt people. Make it a habit to let them finish what they are saying. Respect that they have thoughts they are processing and speaking about and wait to ask questions or make comments until they have finished.
3. Keep your eyes focused on the speaker and your ears tuned to their voice. Don’t let your eyes wander around the room, just in case your attention does too.
4. Carry a notebook or start a conversation file on your computer. Write down all the discussions that you have in a day. Capture the subject, who spoke more (were you listening or doing a lot of the talking?), what you learned in the discussion, as well as the who, what, when, where, why, and how aspects of it. Once you have conducted this exercise eight to ten times, you will be able to see at what level your listening skills are.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask the other person what they want from the conversation. Are they looking for advice, validation, an opinion, or just an opportunity to vent? Knowing what they want will help you structure your listening approach to effectively communicate with them.
6. Ask a few questions throughout the conversation. When you ask, people will know that you are listening to then and that you are interested in what they have to say. Your ability to summarise and paraphrase will also demonstrate that you heard them.
7. When you demonstrate good listening skills, they tend to be infectious. If you want others to communicate well, you have to set a high example.