When it comes to improving communication, we have a tendency to think about what it is that we need to be projecting out. What do we need to be saying? When actually to improve communication, we should start with learning how to listen better. And today I'm going to take you through three ways in which you can improve your listening skills so that you can also improve and up your game on the communication front.
So, rule number one with improving your communication through mastering the art of listening is to develop the ability to pause and to just really focus on relaxing and letting the other person speak. Don't think about the next thing that you need to be saying or cut them off. Just pause. Let them say whatever it is that they're trying to say and fully give the space for that. Give the proper airtime for that. The worst thing that you can do when trying to improve your communication is jump in, complete someone else's sentences, or interrupt them before they're finished speaking. Just let them fully speak. So, just pause and listen.
Number two, to improve your listening game, to improve your communication game, you need to reflect back what you're hearing. You can use just a simple statement such as, "I think I heard you say," or "I understand what you're saying is," and just reflect back. Play back what it is that you've just heard the person state. They might've spoken for one minute or two minutes, and so you want to just give that newspaper headline summary in return, and this does a couple of things. One, it forces you to make sure that you're actually listening because you can't play back something that you didn't actually hear. And then two, the recipient of that playback, the person that you're talking to, will feel that you're actually engaged and acknowledging them. So, the communication flow will go a lot more strongly.
So, number one, we pause, actually taking what they're saying. Number two, we reflect back on what it is that we just heard. And then, number three, ask the question, "Why?" So, you've reflected back to make sure that you understood what it is that they're saying, and then just ask them why. "Why do you feel that way? Why do you think that way? Why don't you think things could be another way?" And this gets them to go another level deeper.
So, give those three things a try, pause, reflect back and ask why, to really deepen your understanding about what the other person is saying. And I'd love to hear from you. What do you do to improve your communication? What are the practices that you follow and specifically when it comes to listening, what skills or practices have you employed or used to improve the way you listen to others? So, I hope you've enjoyed that, and if you head over to my website at ericpartaker.com, you can also subscribe to my weekly Peak Performance Insights newsletter.