How to be an effective listener
Sports professionals are commonly travelling to meet with event organisers, to sell sponsorship packages, meet with colleagues in different countries, etc. In such an international environment, communication is extremely important - and it all starts with the ability to listen properly. Listening skills are fundamental to building great business relationships. Here are some hints to assist you in becoming an effective listener.
Hint no.1: Take an active role
Different than the physical ability of hearing, listening is an acquired skill that cannot be practiced passively. As you engage in a conversation make sure you stay focused. Remember to maintain eye contact and pay attention to additional conversation dimensions such as body language, facial expressions, etc.
Hint no.2: Listen with positive regard
Regardless of your own views on what is being discussed,
while you listen stay positive. As a listener, this means tuning into
the message being said in spite of your personal opinion. When you start
a conversation, try to free yourself from any existing prejudice that
may interfere with the discussion in order to guarantee you listen and
understand the other person's point of view.
Hint no.3: Acknowledge the speaker
As a listener, it is your role to make the speaker
comfortable and to let him/her know that you understand and follow what
is being said. This 'speaker validation' may come in different forms
such as a head nod, leaning toward the speaker, or even a simple
'uh-huh'. Such expressions make it clear to the speaker that you are
paying attention and therefore give him/her confidence to continue
Hint no.4: Do not interrupt the speaker
Nobody likes to be interrupted. In some cases, this may be interpreted as disrespectful and inconsiderate behaviour. So, when discussing, make sure you write down any thoughts or comments you may have during the talk and, when the person concludes, share those views with him or her.
Hint no.5: Confirm understanding
When the speaker has finished, do not take his words as final. To make sure you have fully understood, repeat your interpretation of what was said and confirm with him/her that you have grasped the arguments presented. In doing so, rather than assuming you understood you can be assured to know exactly what was said and with which intentions. At the same time, the person speaking will be pleased that you paid attention and understood what was being said.