Can You Hear Me Now?

I recently overheard a phone conversation my wife had with her friend, “Kim.”

Here’s how it sounded:

Jenna: “My mom is so difficult. Now she’s complaining about the food at the assisted living community.”

Kim: “That’s nothing. Karl was going to take me hiking this weekend. Then last night he told me he couldn’t go. He’s canceled before. And he didn’t even give me a real reason.”

It went on like that.

Whenever Jenna said something, Kim shifted the conversation to talk about herself.

Kim wasn’t listening. She was waiting for her turn to talk.

When Kim spoke, she’d go on long rants complaining.

It was like Jenna was being held captive.

Which got me thinking.

How can we become better listeners?

Here are a seven tips:

  1. Stop one-upping people. If someone tells you they went to Italy, don’t go on a rant about your trip to Italy. Instead, be curious about their trip.
  2. Talk in sound bites. Don’t monopolize the conversation. Talk for 30 seconds, then pass the potato back.
  3. Be curious. Don’t focus on what you’re going to say next. Be interested in the other person. Trust that you’ll know what to say.
  4. Pause two beats after the other person is done talking.
  5. Repackage what someone said. “Whoa, an Ironman! That sounds insane. How long is that?
  6. Mirror. Repeat the last two or three words the other person said with a slight uptone as if to say, “Tell me more.”
  7. Have a 3:1 listen to talk ratio.

Knowing how to make people feel heard and understood is a superpower for forging strong connections with anyone in your business or personal life.

Like getting more robust by lifting weights, your listening muscle gets stronger with reps.

Listen to as many people as you can. Get your reps in.