I’ve attended a few classes on how to be a better speaker/presenter/trainer in my day, but not once have I seen a decent class on being a better listener. (Hint: there’s a decent video at the bottom.)
In my humble opinion, I believe classes on active listening should be mandatory – in middle and high school. From what I’ve experienced and seen, it is never taught. It’s implied. It’s tested. It’s critiqued. But it’s never developed without a self-initiated personal development effort.
Maybe I went to the wrong schools. Maybe I’m completely wrong. I don’t know. It just seems generally accurate where I’ve been.
This one skill can make or break a person’s ability to learn. I’m not talking about taking good notes, I’m talking about being fully engaged in the conversation, but not saying anything unless a question arises. Extra bonus points for paying astute attention.
When I am in a class or a training session, I treat the situation as if I am the only person in the room, or on the call, with the presenter. It doesn’t matter if it’s a one on one, a one-way call with 500 people I can’t identify, or if I’m in the room with them. I give the trainer that level of attention, even if I’m an expert on the topic. Why? They’re the content deliverer. They wouldn’t be telling me something if they didn’t know anything about the topic. They usually know something I don’t. Maybe they just learned it this morning. Whatever it is, I want to know what it is, because it’s important to them that I learn what they are teaching.
The same goes for face to face meetings or even conference calls. Unless I’m the presenter, I’m listening, absorbing everything. When I’m ready to say something, it matters.
It’s not enough to be present, you need to be cognizant too.
Simply being mindful enough to consciously pay attention can drastically alter what you get out of an experience. Are you experienced?
Consider optimizing your balance of working while distracted, aka multitasking, with being fully focused on the task at hand. If you’re doing busy work, feel free to task swap. When people are involved, be completely there. Here’s the video. I found it on LinkedIn.