The Power Of Listening

Choose an attitude of wonderment, taking in all that is being said without assuming you already know what the speaker is talking about. Let go of jumping ahead to finish his or her thoughts. In order to learn, you have to risk change...changing your mind! ― Dwight Frindt

In a dynamic world filled with clashing priorities and a multitude of competing tasks to accomplish, listening can be quite challenging. It takes a certain level of willpower and compartmentalisation to be able to put one's feelings, thoughts and distractions aside when conversing with others.

Professionals typically have to deal with numerous distractions, responsibilities and work pressure. To be able to stay in the moment while taking heed of what others are saying is not an easy feat to accomplish. Listening is not only important in business affairs, however. To become a better partner, leader or human being, we must be able to listen to other people's opinions.

Have you ever had to sit in an all-day workshop, listening to the banter or exchange of ideas all day? Every now and again, it can be tempting to dash into the temporary and ineffective succour that pretend listening can offer. Listening can be exhausting, mentally tasking but fulfilling if done effectively. This skill clearly distinguishes true leaders from those that float through life discarding the opinions of others.

Here are some quick tips that have worked for me:

1) Compartmentalise

This is the ability to deal with one issue at a time. If you can learn to delay issues or tasks that bother you till when you have the time and attention to deal with them, you will be better able to focus on what others have to say. Make a conscious effort to "mentally park” issues that bother you until you are available to deal with them.

2) Allow others speak

You don't need to prove to anyone that you have a response or solution to every problem. Neither can you get ahead of a conversation by constantly interrupting. Strong listeners are more interested in learning from conversations than defending their opinion. The temptation to interrupt when someone is speaking typically comes when you think they are following a wrong line of reasoning. Be open enough to listen to what stakeholders have to say even if what they say does not necessarily align with your world view. Sometimes, all you need to do is listen and understand another person’s position well enough to point out why you think there’s a better way. In some cases, you might even end up changing your mind.

When you have sufficiently listened and understood what is being said, you will be better positioned to respond from a position of understanding. When you listen to what stakeholders express, you are also able to filter out their real needs. Listen without judging the speaker.

3) Listen Actively

Don’t take notes, don't try to prepare a response in your head, just focus on listening. Let your mind and body be engaged in the discussion.

Of all the soft skills necessary to become a successful BA professional, listening is certainly one of the most important. Professionals that have the capacity to listen to others will always be one step ahead as they will be looked upon as a source of inspiration and strength by others. A BA that listens puts stakeholders at ease, encouraging them to bare their minds. When you listen, you gain access to information and are able to make better decisions as a result. Stakeholders should always have the feeling that they have been heard, understood and that their preferences have at least been considered.

What other tip has worked for you?

Picture Attribution: “Casual Executives Working Together At A Meeting With Digital Tab…” by nenetus/