How to be a better listener: part 1


Learning about clean language has made me stop and think about my listening skills. I'm consciously watching myself as I listen to people and I'm noticing how quickly I jump in and finish people's sentences off for them or paraphrase what I think they are saying or just take their comment and use it as springboard to start talking about myself.

Apparently, this is not the way it's done.

A 2003 study found that waitresses and waiters earned themselves 68% more tips when they did one simple thing: they repeated the customer's order back to them. They mirrored back the customer's own words.

Mirroring is a very simple thing to do which brings about a feeling of understanding and closeness between people. You can mirror with your body language (people who are attracted to each other do this unconsciously) or with your words. Obviously, tone is important here, but saying back to the person the same words they used lets them know that you have actually heard them. You're taking their words seriously. 

I decided that I would try to do this, and I've made an effort this week to actually wait for the people I've been talking with to finish their sentences and then, instead of paraphrasing in my own words, or adding my own interpretations, I've tried to reflect back to them their own words. 

Has it made a difference? I don't really know. You'd have to ask the people I've been talking to, I guess. But I have definitely had some great conversations this week, and at the very least I've been deliberate in taking the time to listen more effectively to the people around me.

Watch out for part 2 of how to be a better listener, in which I interview one of the best listeners I've ever met.