Did you know that listening is one of the most underrated skills you can develop as an entrepreneur?
Mastering the art of listening to both what people MEAN and what they SAY can profoundly impact both your personal and professional success.
On last week’s blog, I talked about Mastering The Art Of Listening.
And it’s so important because one of the keys to entrepreneurial success is asking questions and practicing effective listening when you receive an answer.
Listening is a skill… and skills can be learned.
BUT… how do you know if you are a good listener or where you require improvement?
Not to worry… I’ve created a simple quiz for self-assessment.
The purpose of this quiz is to assist you to become conscious of your current listening skills so you can improve your listening ability.
Just do your best to answer these questions honestly… NOT as you think they should be answered. That means in the way that best describes your current listening habits.
This will provide you with the clearest picture possible of your listening strengths and will also increase your awareness of where your listening skills require focus and development.
Let’s get started!
To assess your Listening skills, answer “YES” or “NO” to the following questions:
1. I am consciously aware of my listening strategy in every conversation.
2. People often tell me they feel I am not listening to them.
3. I get impatient in conversations and finish other people’s sentences.
4. I create eye contact when I am listening.
5. I have mastered the art of appearing to listen when I am not listening at all.
6. People often compliment me on my listening skill.
7. When I am unable to commit my full attention to another person, I let that person know that I am distracted.
8. People often say, “You are not listening to me!”
9. I listen better individually with people than when I am part of a group.
10. I ask for clarification when required in my conversations.
11. When someone is speaking to me I generally focus on paying attention to them.
12. I have mastered the art of never missing a beat as I tune in and out of a conversation.
13. I always remember the names of people when I meet them for the first time.
14. I pay more attention to information if I perceive I will be tested or required to repeat the information later.
15. I create a concerted effort to demonstrate my interest through my body language.
16. When I hear something I disagree with or want to add to, I get hung up on that point and stop paying attention.
17. I am one of those people who believe I remember every detail of what was said.
18. I have created some major misunderstandings by not listening.
19. I am willing to change my opinions and beliefs after receiving someone else’s thoughts based on their experiences.
20. My listening skills have improved in the last 5 years.
The Effective Listening Answers Are:
YES 1. I am consciously aware of my listening strategy in every conversation.
Consider how you are going to listen, what you are listening for and how you are going to focus your attention on the other person in a conversation. When you do this, you are directing conscious thought toward quality listening, thus you will listen more effectively.
NO 2. People often tell me they feel I am not listening to them.
If you receive this comment often, it means your listening habits require some attention. Great listening skills begin with focusing your attention on the person who is speaking, allowing them to reside in the center of your attention during their portion of the conversation.
NO 3. I get impatient in conversations and finish other people’s sentences.
Even if you think you can predict what someone is going to say, quality listening requires you to relax and maintain your focus on the other person, allowing them to complete their statements before you speak.
YES 4. I create eye contact when I am listening.
Clear and direct eye contact assists you to maintain focus and lets people know you are listening.
NO 5. I have mastered the art of appearing to listen when I am not listening at all.
Some people are very good at maintaining the appearance of listening, even as they check out of a conversation. Realize that most people can tell if you are not really listening, even if they do not confront your lack of attention. When you stop listening, you risk not only missing valuable information, but also sabotaging the connection you have created with the other person.
YES 6. People often compliment me on my listening skills.
People respect and appreciate a good listener. Be proud of your listening skills and the compliments you receive for being a good listener. Quality listening requires time, energy and attention and you deserve the recognition for developing your skills!
YES 7. When I am unable to commit my full attention to another person, I let that person know that I am distracted.
If you are not in a position where you can focus on the other person’s message it is not worth trying. It is much more advantageous to suggest another time to talk and will facilitate easier communication for both parties.
NO 8. People often say “You are not listening to me!”
If this is so, focus on allowing someone else to have the floor once in a while. Listen carefully to yourself when you do speak, considering if what you are saying is more important than what you might be learning.
NO 9. I listen better individually with people than when I am part of a group.
When you are part of a group, listen to all that is happening as if you will require this information at a later time. It is a disempowering habit to tune out if you think that other people in your group will listen for you.
YES 10. I ask for clarification when required in my conversations.
This is the main way questions will assist you with quality listening. Asking for clarification not only gets you the information you require, it also lets other people know you are paying attention.
YES 11. When someone is speaking to me I generally focus on paying attention to them. Expending the energy to pay attention to someone else is 90% of the effort in quality listening.
Keep in mind that when you really listen, your efforts will be greatly rewarded.
NO 12. I have mastered the art of never missing a beat as I tune in and out of a conversation.
You may think you are not missing anything, but if you are checking in and out of conversations, how can you really know? Once you tune out of a conversation you will never receive another opportunity to listen to what you missed.
YES 13. I always remember the names of people when I meet them for the first time.
Often, we are too worried about what other people think of us to focus and listen to someone else’s name. We also get distracted assessing the person’s appearance and demeanor and forget how much people value their names and how important it is to remember them. Remembering names requires releasing your internal pressure to perform for approval… practice relaxing and receiving a connection with the other person. Begin looking for the value that person can bring to you rather than worrying about the value you bring to the table. You will be amazed at how effectively you remember names when the heat is off!
NO 14. I pay more attention to information if I perceive I will be tested or required to repeat the information later.
It is a facet of human nature to pay more attention when we know we will be tested. This is because we have learned that if we pass the test we will receive a reward. Remember that listening always pays rewards in the form of respect, information and opportunities.
YES 15. I create a concerted effort to demonstrate my interest through my body language.
It is important to let people know you are listening to them. People feel special and important when they are listened to, and this greatly increases your odds that they will feel compelled to reconnect with you in another conversation.
NO 16. When I hear something I disagree with or want to add to, I get hung up on that point and stop paying attention.
It is easy to do this and we all do this occasionally, some more than others. Realize that if we get stuck on one point we risk missing other points which often prove more important in the long run. When you hear something you want to comment on, create a mental note of it and come back to it after the other person has finished speaking.
NO 17. I am one of those people who believe I remember every detail of what was said.
No one can remember everything! You will probably remember the information at the beginning and at the end of a conversation, but what about the middle? It is often the information in the middle that is the most important. When you are listening attentively, you will notice where the other person’s emphasis lies in the conversation. What situations are they most animated about? What provokes their emotions? Remembering these key portions of the conversation is much more valuable than attempting to memorize every detail of the conversation.
NO 18. I have created some major misunderstandings by not listening.
In the course of a soul having a human experience, it is almost guaranteed that we all have done this at one point or another. The first step you can take in insuring you do not create this situation again is to realize that you can avoid major misunderstanding by listening better. The second step is to practice quality listening.
YES 19. I am willing to change my opinions and beliefs after receiving someone else’s thoughts based on their experiences.
If you are really listening objectively your thoughts and feelings will occasionally change. Take notice of how often, if ever, you actually do this. We all say we are open to change, but are our actions backing up our lip service? Change and flexibility are the keys to entrepreneurial success. Are you as open to change as you perceive you are, or are you subconsciously moving through life open only to the information that reinforces your existing beliefs and opinions?
NO 20. My listening skills have improved in the last 5 years.
Assessing Your Score
Most people are amazed when confronted with this question. While most of us have improved in many areas, listening generally is not one of them.
Now… look back over your answers and assess where you are.
If you answered 18‐20 statements correctly, you have developed excellent listening habits.
If you answered 14‐17 statements correctly, you have developed good listening habits.
If you answered 11‐13 statements correctly, you have developed fair listening habits.
If you answered 10 or fewer statements correctly… your listening habits require your immediate focus and attention to become more empowering.
No matter what your score, everyone has the ability to listen effectively.
One way to consistently challenge yourself to improve your listening aptitude is during every conversation ask yourself, “Am I learning anything?”
If you are not learning new information about the other person, you are talking too much and listening too little.