Are you listening? Of course you are.
Reading this is actually you listening. “No Cheryl” (you’re probably thinking) “I’m reading!” You’re right, but you’re listening as well. By absorbing and processing what I’ve typed here, you’re listening.
And that’s good, because listening is a key skill in life.
Have you ever heard the phrase; you can listen but not hear?
Most of us hear things constantly. I can promise you that you’re hearing something right now – maybe a car driving past, maybe a neighbour vacuuming, maybe just the quiet wind outside?
Our ears are always naturally picking up on sounds, but that doesn’t mean we’re always taking notice of them.
But if you’re listening to something, you’re paying attention to it, you’re acknowledging and processing it.
Listening skills are necessary for all steps of life – school, work, just being around people in general.
You don’t have to listen to everyone you meet of course. Sometimes when we receive negativity (it’s a part of life!) we can choose not to listen.
But people want to be listened to, no matter what they’re talking about, because it’s a form of validation, a way of showing respect and care. It’s why we tend to listen better when we’re chatting with people we like, and why we tend to ‘ignore’ people we aren’t so keen on.
Would you be interested in talking to someone if you knew they won’t listen to anything you have to say? Listening DOES come in handy.
Good listeners show more empathy, can make more calculated decisions, and tend to be seen as more trustworthy.
As they say, ‘it’s not the hearing that improves life, but the listening.’
Speaking and listening work together.
If you’re a good listener, then the chances are you’re a good speaker too. And vice versa.
Let’s say, for example, if you are a public speaker. If you’re watching someone else deliver a speech, you’ll no doubt be great at listening to them. You’ll understand what it’s like to be in their position, be keen to learn what they’re talking about, and how they deliver their speech.
The more public speakers you watch, the more approaches you will hear, thus expanding your listening capabilities.
Now let’s look at it from the other way round.
People who are good at listening tend to be good at communicating.
A good communicator isn’t someone who’s necessarily good at talking, but rather someone who’s good at engaging those they’re speaking to. And the best communicators are able to do that with anyone.
We all have at least someone in our life who is easy to speak to – whether it’s a friend, a family member, or a work colleague. And then there are those people you just find really difficult to talk to. Chances are they aren’t good listeners.
Different people have different ways of listening and speaking, and no, I’m not just talking different languages. You wouldn’t speak to your mother the same way you’d speak to your friend on a night out, right?
But being a good communicator doesn’t necessarily mean having multiple ways of speaking to people, it means having an all-around approach, a way that is so effective, it can move an entire audience.
Now look at someone who’s bad at communicating. Imagine watching someone deliver a public speech, but they have no experience at it whatsoever. And I don’t just mean they’ve never done one – they’ve never listened to one either. Recipe for disaster!
Since it doesn’t come naturally, this might be a very painful experience, for the speaker and the listeners.
A bad speaker might be too quiet, too monotone, or they might come over negatively – maybe as arrogant, or condescending.
Would you be keen to listen to someone like that? Of course not. At the least you would probably be quickly bored, at the worst that person might be heckled off the stage!
Bad speakers are much harder to listen to.
Make practice of both!
It’s no wonder speaking and listening work together. This is how babies learn to speak. They listen. They listen. And then they listen some more. Until one day a connection in their brain gives the understanding that this sound means that nice white liquid I get to drink. And so they try to make that sound. Listening leads to speaking!
And when you look at what makes a good listener, you could easily apply those qualities to what makes a good speaker as well. Qualities like :
Don’t interrupt. Don’t suddenly change the topic. Make eye contact. Ask related questions.
These can (and should!) be used for conversations, but they’re also great tips for speaking.
Particularly the asking questions bit. This is what is lacking in most schools / academic teaching environments or workplace learning situations. The teacher/lecturer talks. They tell you stuff. You are supposed to write it down. But there is little interaction.
A great public speaker will involve the audience with regular ‘check in’ questions which as well as engaging the audience, means the speaker feels great – because they know the audience is with them. There is nothing more intimidating then speaking to a bunch of people who give you no feedback/response at all.
Both listening and speaking require practice, but they’re both worth investing in – and I can help you with that.
Being an effective public speaker can be challenging for a number of reasons. But one thing that people don’t often consider is how challenging it is to make speeches memorable.
With a written story, the words are displayed right in front of you, so you’re able to reread them if necessary. In person, you only have the moment to get each sentence across. So, you have to have a structure which is not only engaging but gets your to your end goal – whether that is selling a product, service, or just an idea.
Take the first step to becoming a (even better) public speaker by joining our Facebook group, Female Public Speaking Tips. Here you will find the answers and insider secrets on how to be an amazing public speaker – even if you have never done it before, or it frightens you right now.
Boost your listening skills, and let your voice be heard.
PS – The genetic blueprint really helps with understanding who you are and what you are here to do – fill in this 2-minute questionnaire and I will send you your own ‘genetic blueprint’ which will help you understand yourself so you can begin to find your why! You will find it here.
PPS – If the link doesn’t work for any reason (sometimes technology has a bad day) then email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will sort it out for you!
PPS – If you liked this blog and want to read more blogs surrounding female empowerment, you can find last week’s here: ‘Judgement – Up and Down!‘
“I’m on a global mission to help 10 million disheartened souls, who are at a crossroads, to STOP asking why me? And START saying why not me!”