It happened. I had a bridezilla moment and lost my cool on a wedding vendor. But once I calmed down (and kept it in perspective #firstworldproblem), I realized that it came down to one simple thing: I didn’t feel heard. So, even though we all know that listening is important to effective communications, how can you really listen? Here are some ideas:
- Be flexible on your agenda. Setting an agenda is key, but make sure to ask if your stakeholder wants to add anything or wants to say anything up front. Letting people share what’s on their mind can set the tone for the whole meeting. Next, show you were listening by making changes to the agenda and ensuring that everyone’s needs and goals are being met.
- Ask “How are you doing?” or “How’s your week going?” and pay attention to the answer. It’s more than a nice thing to say—you can learn a lot from that question and get a better sense of how the other person is feeling.
- Repeat back what the other person is saying. If you were truly listening, you should receive lots of nodding and yeses. If you haven’t, try again.
- Be curious and genuinely interested in other people’s perspective. Ask them questions and encourage them to share an example or a story, then ask follow-up questions. The way a person tells a story reveals something about their perspective. Listen for it!
And here’s a bonus tip: Always keep the project vision in mind. For me, my vision is to get married to an amazing guy surrounded by my family and best friends. It’s not about meticulously sticking to a timeline or cutting into a three-tiered cake. Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture when you drill down into the details.
So, when was the last time you really felt heard? On the flip side, when was the last time you really listened?