Want to be a better listener? Don’t interrupt! Mix up the letters of the word listen, and you end up with the word silent. That can’t be a coincidence.
When you interrupt, you are not listening. It is impossible to listen and interrupt. Some of you might be reading this thinking, but I don’t interrupt. I would never speak over someone else who is speaking. That may be true, but there is more to interrupting than just speaking simultaneously as someone else. You can interrupt people mentally as well! Do you ever think about something else when someone else speaks? Perhaps what you will say in response to what they are saying. Well, then, congratulations, you have just interrupted the person who is speaking. You are not listening.
Not listening affects relationships, professional development, and your value to others, slows the sales process, or might completely stall it.
Work to avoid interrupting. It may sound simple, but it’s not! Consider the following suggestions if you want to interrupt less and listen more. Pick one now, implement it, and reap the rewards of being a better listener.
- Give non-verbal cues like nodding your head.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- Let thoughts come and go.
- Use the mute button during phone conversations or video chat to minimize distraction.
- Listen for the period, not the comma. Let people take a breath and continue their thoughts.
- Enlist an accountability partner who can help you be aware when you interrupt.
- When the urge to interrupt happens, place your finger over your mouth as a reminder.
- Slow down, do not be in a hurry.
- Embrace silence. It is okay to have pauses in conversations as you gather your thoughts.
- Take a deep breath.
- Value the person speaking.
Here is a quote from Norbert Weiner that sums it up quite well.
“Speech is a joint game between the talker and the listener against the forces of confusion.
Unless both sides make an effort, interpersonal communication is quite hopeless.”
Join us in one of our interactive listening workshops as we explore ways for you to become a better listener.