“To listen well is as powerful a means of communication and influence as to talk well” – John Marshall

The first step toward mastering better communication skills is to be a better listener. It goes a long way in making communication effective and also plays a crucial role during conflict resolution.

Here are three ways that can help you hone this essential skill you might need to excel at any business communication.


Listening without interpretations

Are you sure what you listened at the last meeting was what was being said? How much information was diluted or distorted by your own interpretation?

Listen with an open mind. You have to train your brain to focus on what is being said – to be in the moment completely. Interpretative listening interferes with complete comprehension of the message. You’re busy interpreting what was said a few minutes back and miss out on what is being said now. Interpretations and judgments must be on your agenda post-listening. Appropriately intervene to clarify any doubts if need be to refocus your listening – stay focused on the interaction and message.


Listening with cultural diversity in mind

Cross cultural communication may present barriers to communication but can be overcome with knowledge and respect for all differences.

With teams working across the globe in different time zones and in different cultures, it is important to hone your listening skills with cultural diversity in mind. It is not only the difference in cultural communication differences but the language barriers which might present obstacles to listening and communication process. What the other person said was perhaps not what he exactly meant or was able to get across since the language of communication was not his/her native one. In such situations it is important to rephrase and clarify what has been said to ensure ‘correct’ listening.


Listening to what was never said

To listen well you must be aware of both verbal and non-verbal communication. Observe what is not being said and also note that your own body language shows your attentiveness as a keen listener.

Statistics on what percentage of our communication is non-verbal may differ from one analyst to another but it is widely accepted that is well over 50 percent in most cases. And if that’s the case then it pays to give special attention to how to respond, interpret and respect non-verbal communication. Pay special attention to the body language or other visual cues. If you are communicating via non-visual methods then listen carefully to their tone and choice of words.