Listening is an important part of communication that tends to get forgotten. It is a really vital business skill, as well as a particularly vital leadership skill, and is one that few people have ever been trained on.
For example, how are you taking feedback? Particularly if you are working with customers, you need to have some sort of feedback channel in place as that is how you listen to them. You may be selling to consumers on social media, where you’re listening to reviews and comments and posts on your social media posts. If you are selling to businesses, the feedback loop is often customer satisfaction, surveys, and results driven ROI. Similarly, if you are working with a dispersed team, you need to have a feedback loop in place. How can people feed back to you that they are listening? If they can’t, how can you be confident that they have heard what you have said? Even repeating points back at the end of a conversation can be useful, as it ensures that they have understood.
Secondly, don’t multitask. If you are listening to somebody, do not try and do other things as well. And this I think is particularly true on platforms like Zoom, where there’s a real temptation to be checking things or looking at your emails. Take away all the distractions, switch on do not disturb. Turn off notifications. Put any physical distractions out the way and just talk to that person.
Thirdly, make sure to maintain eye contact while listening. Try to look at the camera as much as you can. Inevitably our eyeline will wander a bit, just as it does in normal conversation, but still make an effort. Go full screen if you can, and try not to type on your keyboard, because if they can hear it, the person you’re calling will know you’re not paying attention. Similarly, don’t mute yourself or them during the conversation, as this also makes you seem distracted. Try to maintain the natural flow of the conversation as much as possible by listening and responding naturally.