If you walked by my house today you may have heard my son’s name being yelled. He was in full hyper-mode; the cold winter is not allowing him go outside and burn off that extra energy, an activity that he so desperately needs as a child. I think it was the fifth time, which to me felt like 227th time, today that we asked him to not tackle his little brother, so I pulled him aside to give the “warning speech”.
Ever since my sons could stand, we have taught them to be respectful to people talking to them. They need to make eye contact, listen, and no fidgeting. I reminded him that earlier today his baseball coach instructed the boys that listening involves your eyes, ears, and body language.
As we talked, it occurred to me that part of my opening speech at Toastmasters was to educate the audience on what we expect from our audiences who attend Toastmasters. We ask that you make eye contact with the speaker, actively listen for jargon, grammatical errors, and voice pitch, and a part of active listening is body language… lean into the speaker, show interest. Audience listening participation helps improve a speaker’s confidence and makes it easier to deliver a speech.
One of my examples in my presentation entitled How to Enhance Your Business Through Your Image talks about how mutual respect is given when individuals stop what they are doing, make eye contact, and listen. A feeling of sincerity is created and people become more attentive.
Over the years I have joked with couples who are dating that the reason they are dating is because they listen to each other. Once you are married you have heard it all. Yet, we take listening for granted. It is a skill that must be taught, relearned, and practiced. Those who master the skill we call our friends, mentors, and spouses. These are the people we respect.
Tips for Actively Listening
- Make eye contact
- Put down all distractions, cell phone, pens, paper, etc.
- Correct your body posture and remove negative body posture; uncross arms and legs, lean in to the speaker, sit straight up
- Move to a quiet area
- Schedule meeting time to ensure distraction will not affect listening
- Listening requires you NOT to speak until the speaker is FINISHED
- Listening doesn’t mean solving a problem, unless asked for a solution or opinion
- You must mentally be ready to listen. Turn off the voice in your heard