1 Sometimes it is necessary to insist on further explanation.
2 You shouldn't focus on your response while others are still speaking.
3 People are reluctant to admit that they don't listen well.
4 There are benefits in seeing things from the speaker's perspective.
5 Keen observation of the speaker can support our listening skills.
6 It is risky to think about a different issue while someone is speaking.
7 People do not mind hearing their own views summarised.
Good listener, better manager
Too often we accuse others of not listening, pretending that we ourselves are faultless, yet in our hearts we know that many of the mistakes we make come about because we haven't listened carefully enough. We get things wrong because we haven't quite understood what someone meant when they were talking to us. Anyone who has ever taken the minutes of a long meeting will know how hard it is to remember - despite the benefit of notes - exactly what everyone said. But success depends on getting things right - and that means listening.
Listening is not the same thing as hearing; it is not an effortless activity. It demands attention and concentration. It may mean quizzing the speaker for additional information or for clarification - it is always better to ask than to continue regardless and get things wrong. However, if you allow your mind to wander onto something else, even for a few minutes, you'll miss what the speaker is saying - probably at the very moment when he or she is saying something critical. And not having heard, you won't know you've missed anything until it's too late.
The most common bad habit we have is to start thinking of what we are going to say about the subject long before the other speaker has finished. We then stop listening. Even worse, this often adds rudeness to inattentiveness, as once you have decided what to say there is a fair chance you will interrupt to say it. Good listeners don't interrupt. In fact it is often worth explaining the main idea of what you have just been told before going on to make your own points. Nobody is offended by this and it shows that you have listened well.
Above all be patient and accept that many people are not very good communicators. It's helpful to remember that the ways people move and position themselves while they are speaking can reveal a great deal about what they are saying. Equally importantly you should put yourself in the other person's place, both intellectually and emotionally; it will help you to understand what they are getting at and form a response. But don't be too clever. Faced with a know-all, many people keep quiet because they see no point in continuing.