What makes a good listener?
A good listener doesn’t listen to respond. They listen to learn.
“Listening” is not just “hearing”. It’s asking good questions that help you understand the other person.
Some guy’s girlfriend tells him “I don’t like it when you tell me how to do things. I feel like you’re judging me.”
“I’m not judging you.” he said. “It was just a suggestion.”
He was not listening.
Regardless of how he experienced it, her experience was that he was judging her.
A bad listener focuses on explaining his own experience.
A good listener focuses on learning about the other person’s experience:
- “Which part makes you feel like I’m judging you?”
- “Was it what I said, or how I said it?”
- “How would you like me to make suggestions in future? Or would you prefer it if I didn’t make suggestions?”
A good listener improves the way he relates with the other person by learning how they think. Learning what’s important to them.
A bad listener learns nothing.
At an interview for a sales job I was asked “How will you bring us 10 new clients in your first month?”
I didn’t have an answer prepared. I panicked and blurted out the usual ways of reaching new clients. It was an empty, generic answer.
I was not listening. Any monkey could’ve rattled off that list.
When the interviewer asked that question what he really wanted to know was: “Does this guy know what he is doing?”
A good listener would’ve unpacked the interviewer’s question and learned what the interviewer was looking for:
“You know I haven’t really thought about specific strategies. What’s your biggest bottleneck right now in getting new clients on board?”
A good listener aims to understand deeply.
A bad listener misses the point.