Listening Skills: The Ultimate Workplace Soft Skills Class | TJ Walker | Skillshare

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Listening Skills: The Ultimate Workplace Soft Skills Class

teacher avatar TJ Walker, Public Speaking and Media Training Expert

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

22 Lessons (59m)
    • 1. Promo Video Listening Skills The Ultimate Workplace Soft Skills

    • 2. Quick Wins The Cell Phone Secret to Good Listening Skills

    • 3. Stacking the Listening Environment in Your Favor

    • 4. The Telephone Listening Trap Will Never Catch You Again

    • 5. Housekeeping Note Sometimes You should Turn OFF Your Listening Skills

    • 6. Setting Just One Agenda Item Listening

    • 7. It Is Incredibly Easy to See How Well You Are Listening Test

    • 8. It's Even Easier to Listen When You Do This

    • 9. Technology Will Eat Your Brain Unless You Do This

    • 10. Using Your Most Effective Body Language Tool

    • 11. The Best Listening Body Language From the Neck Down

    • 12. Reading the Speaker's Body

    • 13. Connecting At the Emotional Level with Your Colleague To Hear All

    • 14. Mastering the Art Of NOT Interrupting

    • 15. Asking for Clarification Is A Great Form Of Listening

    • 16. Engaging In Conversation At Just the Right Time

    • 17. Strong Listening Creates Strong Reactions From You

    • 18. Honing Your Sense of Timing and Judgment to Make You a Great Listener

    • 19. Using The Magic of Pen and Paper Tools To Your Advantage

    • 20. Summarizing the Conversation Is Great for You and Your Colleague

    • 21. The One Page Email Memo Summary Aces the Listening Skills Test Every Time!

    • 22. Conclusion Your New Reputation As a Great Listener!

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About This Class

Listening Skills are the quiet soft skills sauce that can make or break a career. Have you ever had a client, customer, boss or colleague have to repeat things to you several times? Or look at you as if they weren't sure you were understanding them, or even paying attention?

The ultimate form of respect you can give anyone in the workplace is listening to them. Strong listening skills seem easy and commonplace, but they are actually rare in most workplaces. Communications expert TJ Walker will teach you step-by-step how to build, strengthen and master excellent listening skills in this course.

"Listening skills are the bedrock of all communication and are the basis of all success in the workplace. I have devoted the last 30 years of my life traveling the globe to teach strong listening and communication skills to people of every continent. Now, I am happy to be teaching and coaching you." TJ Walker

What will students achieve or be able to do after taking this listening skills in the workplace course?

  • Focus attention on a speaker
  • Listen with great attention
  • Understand spoken information delivered in the workplace
  • Retain information delivered from clients, colleagues, customers and bosses
  • Create better connections with everyone in the workplace
  • Improve all work relationships
  • Become a better communicator
  • Demonstrate mastery of listening skills

Please note: this is a listening skills course conducted by a real person who is speaking and demonstrating communication skills. If you are looking for a course with lots of animation, slides, special effects, slick edits, and robotic voices, this course is not for you.

Please enroll now.

Meet Your Teacher

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TJ Walker

Public Speaking and Media Training Expert


TJ Walker is the founder of Media Training Worldwide and has been conducting public speaking training workshops and seminars since 1984. Walker has trained Presidents of countries, Prime Ministers, Nobel Peace Prize winners, Super Bowl winners, US Senators, Miss Universes and Members of Parliament .

Walker has more than 100,000 online course enrollments and more than 100,000 online students.

His book, "Secret to Foolproof Presentations" was a USA Today # 1 Bestseller, as well as a Wall Street Journal, and Business Week Bestseller.

Walker is also the author of "Media Training AZ" and "Media Training Success."

In 2009, Walker set the Guinness Book of World Records for Most Talk Radio Appearances ever in a 24 hour period.

Walker has also served as a forme... See full profile

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1. Promo Video Listening Skills The Ultimate Workplace Soft Skills: listening. There are so many bosses, customers, clients in the world who just want somebody to listen to them. They constantly feel like this person is daydreaming, thinking about Facebook, checking a cell phone and it's annoying and it destroys productivity. This course is about how to help you listen more effectively in the work place in business . If you want to really understand what someone's telling you, a boss, a customer client, and give them the sense that you're showing ultimate respect for them, you are genuinely listening and getting what they're talking about. Then this course is for you. Hi. M. T. J. Walker and I'm a communications expert. For more than 30 years, I've conducted communications workshops all over the world. This course is here to help you. Go ahead. Please enroll 2. Quick Wins The Cell Phone Secret to Good Listening Skills: let me go ahead and give you a couple of quick wins when it comes to helping you listen more effectively. Anytime you're in business, for starters, you're telling to a boss, a customer, a colleague Forget just putting your phone down. Forget putting it on Silence. Turn the phone off. Better yet, put it someplace else. Put it so you can't even see it next. If you're like me and you have a smartphone, a smart what? Hit it on the theater mode. So you're not tempted toe have even a flash that's very distracting to people. They're talking to you, and all of a sudden your smartwatch lights up and your eyes go down It final. Really, really quick Tip. You're listening to someone over the phone. Turn away from your screen. If you're like me and most people you're talking to someone on the phone, you can't resist multitasking. Checking out the email, checking out Facebook. What's new on Twitter? Don't do it. Your mind can really just focus on one thing at a time. If you want to listen to what that customer colleague boss is saying, turn your chair around, turn your computer off just listen, try to stare at a blank wall. Better yet, even close your eyes. If you're not taking notes on a piece of paper or some other computer screen that has nothing but, ah, blank sheet quick wins a lot more to come. Please listen. 3. Stacking the Listening Environment in Your Favor: the first step and really being successful it listening in business, you've got to stack the deck in your favor. That means eliminating needless distractions. Every workplace is filled with distractions. Now you can have workplace at home and your distraction. Kids, dogs, telephones in another part of the house, you could be in a big office place and have an open space. And there's all sorts of people around you, so you've got to do whatever it takes to minimize other sounds. So if that means going to another part of the house, and that means going to a private conference room if you're listening to someone over the phone, if it's a face to face meeting, going to a quiet place, anything you can do to minimize any sound other than that person's voice is going to enhance your chances of listening and understanding and remembering. That's really what it's all about. Some obvious thing. Everybody's guilty of this. Occasionally. I know I'm guilty of this occasionally, but it's not enough to just put your phone down and take it out of your hand, which is torture for some people, by the way. Never listen to a customer client, colleague or boss. If they can see you and you have a phone in your hand that's sending a clear cut message, you're not very important. I'm not really listening to you waiting for something better. So, of course, the phone has to be out of your hand. It's not enough to turn the ringer off my recommendation. Turn the whole phone off. That way, you're not gonna be getting beeps. Vibrations, lights flashing. It's just human nature. You're talking to someone. They could be telling you something incredibly important. The phone beeps and it's Oh, something might be more exciting there. So put the phones away. As I mentioned in the previous lecture. Even your watches and we have an iPad around cap. Put those things on silence now. This is even more important when it is your boss or highly important prospect or client. People can't stand it when they feel somewhat isn't listening to them, especially if they are paying that person. So if it's a relationship where it's your boss, a client, a prospect, they rightly or wrongly they feel like they own your time, they own your attention. So if they feel like you're not giving them complete undivided attention. They're gonna resent it. They're going to resent you. They may be looking for some form of payback. Now, this may be at a subconscious level. They might not be actively thinking that way, But believe me, they are thinking that way. That's why you need to eliminate distractions. Ah, lot of people like to work with music on in their office. That's great. But somebody important calls you. During the work day, I'd recommend Turn the music off. Somebody walks into your office, your cubicle, you respect. Turn the music off. The fewer distractions, the better. All the research shows that human beings are actually horrible at multi tasking. We all think we're great, were horrible. If you doubt me, look at the statistics of teenagers and other people texting while driving. So if you want to increase the ides of listening effectively to everything you can to eliminate lights, sounds flashes coming up from phones, music, other noises so you can just listen to what that person says, especially if they're not there in the room and you're listening to them over the phone over a teleconference, a speaker eliminate distractions 4. The Telephone Listening Trap Will Never Catch You Again: the hardest place to listen. For most people in business communications is the teleconference long, long teleconference. You can't see anyone. They can see you. The temptation is to do other work, perhaps read a good book. There's so many temptations and especially if the teleconferences going on a 30 40 60 minutes an hour, sometimes three hours, you've got to figure out what's important. If there is fluff, you can ignore that. But again, my recommendation is Don't try to multi task, because if a boss or a client says something really important two hours and 15 minutes into the teleconference and you didn't listen carefully, it could have severe repercussions to your career. So we're gonna give you more techniques later on in the course, taking notes, following up with questions, sending email memos, summarizing what was said. But just be aware. Right now, there are some things that air harder and easier to listen to than others. Your boss storms and near office stands over you and starts talking heatedly. For most people, it's pretty easy to listen in that situation, but most business communication isn't going to be that dramatic, and you've got to really learn a lot of very specific skills on how toe listen for every single category of talk speech presentation that you experience in the workplace. 5. Housekeeping Note Sometimes You should Turn OFF Your Listening Skills: This is more of a housekeeping note than a full on lecture, but it's important to realize what we're talking about here. Listening skills in the workplace now many, if not most of the skills are also applicable to every other part of your life. But I don't want to kid you. I'm not expecting you to be a robot. I'm not a robot. No one can listen with 100% intensity all the time. In fact, I'd argue that's counterproductive. If you have some idiot uncle who's spouting off on some extremist political ideology at the Thanksgiving table, it's frankly better for your own mental sanity to not listen very well, just kind of, uh, and be daydreaming about something else. You may have a spouse who is complaining about your gray hair or something else, and it just doesn't pay to listen to the same old argument again and get defensive and have a debate sometimes can in fact be helpful to just not smart and not really listening. But when it comes to business communication, that's different, and that's what the rest of this course is all about. But by all means, I'm human. You're human, feel freed, eternal off the listing skills at certain points during the day and in life 6. Setting Just One Agenda Item Listening: step one when it comes to good listening skills is any time you're listening to someone speak present, talk brief. You share with you a concern. You have to have an agenda and the agenda needs to be 100% listening and understanding that person, everything else in your head has to go away. I realize we all have problems. We all have other concerns, issues, things we gotta worry about. The roof is leaking, but when you're trying to listen to someone, convince them you're listening and actually listen, you're gonna have to free your mind. What that means is you can't go into this with the idea that you're going to outsmart thumb , debate them, show them where they're wrong. There may be times and you do have to do that. Believe me, I love doing that, but it doesn't work in most business situations. It works when you go on talk shows and debate. And for many years I was a political talk show host and I went on as a guest on every network and there. You've got to really, really wait for your opportunity toe boom, hit your message, points attack the other. That's a great skill if you want your own talk show on cable news or on talk radio. But when it comes to most situations in the workplace, it's horrible. People are gonna hate dealing with you. I don't want to be in a meeting with you. So step one. You have to empty your mind. Really focus on that person that human being talking to you, preferably preferably when they're in the room with you talking to you. But even if it's over the phone, you've got to focus on what they're saying. What is the actual meaning? What are they trying to convey? What do they want you to do? This means you can't be thinking about I wonder what my buddy posted on Facebook and my missing any interesting tweets. My gosh, I haven't checked my email in three minutes. What if I missed something? You've got to give the person you're speaking with person who's speaking to you. Your attention. Attention isn't just one eyes here on one eyes Here. It has to be 100% if you want to be an effective listener, 7. It Is Incredibly Easy to See How Well You Are Listening Test: What did I just say? Yeah. I mean, in this course, What did I just say? The previous lecture and the lectures you've heard so far? I want you to take a moment. Think. Don't cheat. Don't go back and re watch them. I want you just to think to yourself right down. Post it right here in the discussion. What you've taken away. So for what? If you heard may say now this is kind of the hardest place to really communicate effectively because it's not live. So you may be watching this on a cell phone. And there's all sorts of crazy people running around in the subway or the train Were you on ? So it is distracting. But you signed up for this course. You're investing your valuable time. So you investing money, Why not get something out of it? Why not start using this skill right away? Why not start building this muscle in you off actually listening? So I want you to write down and it could be nothing. This guy's boring. Put it down. Write it down in the discussion. Let's see how you're doing so far 8. It's Even Easier to Listen When You Do This: Let's stack the deck even further to your advantage. There is a clear cut hierarchy of physical environments that air more conducive to good listening and less conducive. The best is always gonna be one on one in the same room, two people sitting down, no desk, no table, nothing in between them. And they can just look at each other. And you can really look and listen to that person. That's always going to be the best situation, the next best. A group of people you perhaps have. Ah, boss, a colleague and associate speaking. Other people are in the room, but you can clearly see that person here. The person. They're not a lot of other things distracting. Then it starts going down quickly. I would put a Skype video, a zoom alive Webinar, where you can actually see someone's face as the next best thing, certainly ahead of just a telephone call. Then there's a telephone call. Last on the list is probably an email or for millennials, a voicemail, since young people don't like to listen to voice, so always try to do everything you can to increase your odds. Here's one technique Ideo. You're gonna call this nerdy and weird, but any time I have to go to a meeting a conference where there is a speaker. Ah, presenter. I try to go sit on the front row typically, unless you're at a rock concert. The front row is the last place most people sit. They're expecting the speaker to be boring, so they want to sit in the back, grow so they can multi task and check email and leave early. If you really want to listen and show the person who's speaking ultimate respect, sit on the front row. This way, you're not tempted to pull out yourself because the person standing right there and they can see you being route Now I have been on one of the worst when it comes to being in a conference. A speaker. I don't deem it critically important to my business, and I'm pulling out my cell phone, so I want to offer you full disclosure. I'm guilty of this, too, but when you are in a room where your own bosses speaking your own client, someone influential to your career, don't do that. I certainly don't do that. When a meeting with a client or a customer or prospect. Now let's turn the tables a little. You're the one speaking and you want people to listen to you get rid of the tables, take that table, throw it away. Most of what I dio in my day job is I fly all over the world and I conduct public speaking communication skills and media training workshops for groups of people, executives, business leaders, government leaders all over the world. Invariably, I'm taken to a training room and there are tables and things were set up in rows. First thing Ideo. I get rid of all the tables. I arranged the room so that everyone has a front row seat. Even if they're 50 people, it's a gigantic semi circle. What does this do? It forces people to kind of have a front row seat. It's easier for them to pay attention and toe. Listen to me, and it's so much harder to be distracted by pulling out their cell phone because they know I can see them. I can see them unlikely to walk over, not be rude and take it out of their hand. But ask them a question. Connect with them to try to get their attention back. So that's something you can do if you're trying to increase your odds of people listening to you. But again, when you're just listening to someone, try to get the best seat in the room, and that's typically the one nobody else wants right in the middle in the front. 9. Technology Will Eat Your Brain Unless You Do This: a word about technology. Now I love technology. I'm using video cameras, lights, microphone. I love technology. I use it all the time. But sometimes technology can actually decrease your ability to listen effectively. Two main ways it can get in your way. Number one. If you just said I don't have to listen that carefully, I'm gonna hit the memo record function on my phone. I'll have it all. What happens then is you become much more passive because you kind of let yourself off the hook. You're recording everything and you have the ability to go back and listen and re listen to it any time. Here's the catch. When you gonna have time to do that? I understand there are some college students who may do that because they've sent a friend of the class they want to sleep in. They actually will listen to it before the exam. But for most people in the business world, in the workplace, there too many other things going on. So when you hit the record, memo it. Whether you realize it or not, it's allowing you to kind of slack off. Don't do that. There are exceptions. Of course if you are a journalist and you're interviewing someone on the record and they might contend that you misquoted them Sure, recording is a helpful device, but that's not what most of you are doing. So I would not advocate that you arbitrarily record every meeting. The second big thing that gets and gets in trouble these days for people typing, trying to type everything you hear again. I understand some students do that, but case in point, do you see what just happened there? I didn't. I'm a hypocrite. Okay? We're all hypocrites. At some point, I'm trying to give you my undivided focus. And I had not turned the speaker off on my own computer, So I just got a sound burning, really leaving. And because of that, I got distracted. And that's a problem. So number one I want to apologize. But number two I want to make this a learning moment for you, for all of us is no matter who you are, there's technology everywhere, and it can hurt us. It can take us away. So when you really want to have a conversation with someone as I'm doing now, turn your speakers all the way down to zero, so you don't get the beings the flash. That was a message telling me my Dropbox was full. I haven't used that in years, so I didn't need to hear that brown sound. When you're talking to people in person, over the phone to everything you can to turn speakers down now, the second way, the technology seems like it would help people. That really doesn't is when you're trying to type everything someone says When you turn yourself into a stenographer, you basically are allowing your brain to just get into a mechanical mode, and you're no longer actively thinking actively processing. You're just figuring out how to type is quickly a lot of research on this. I linked to some below in this video lecture notes. But all the research shows that if you're typing the whole time in trying to get every word you actually understand less and retain less, then someone is just trying to take notes. I recommend you still use a good old fashioned pen, paper or a pencil and take notes. If you don't want to do that, that's okay. But when you're listening, do not try to capture every single word, that person saying Don't even try to capture most of it. You've got to really listen actively for the biggest insights, the key things to take away the key things to remember most the time you need to be looking up. Even if you really get a typing without looking, you need to be looking up in listening. It's actually very hard toe listen and type at the same time and give 100% of your attention to the person speaking. So I do not recommend that you type and try to record everything. Word for word. It seems like it would help. It really doesn't. 10. Using Your Most Effective Body Language Tool: when you're listening to someone, your body language is crucial. The most important part of your body, your eyes. Now you don't want to be staring someone down like you've seen a ghost. You're trying to haunt them or something. But most the time you do want to be looking at the person who's speaking. Of course, you can look away for a moment, but what you don't want to dio? Yes, we've talked about staring at phones, daydreaming, talking to the person next to you. It really sends a signal to the person in the workplace speaking to you that you don't care . You're not paying attention now. You want to look relaxed, comfortable, pleasant again. It's not this intense, furrowed brow, and I do realize there are some differences in different cultures. In Japan, for example, the ultimate sign of respect if you're a speaker and you have people in the audience, is eyes can be closed because they're concentrating so intently on what you're saying. So there are some cultural differences around the world. My advice, I think, is going to help most people most the time in most places, certainly in Western cultures. But we have people from 183 countries in my courses and 190 countries in you, Timmy. So your you had to filter this through what works in your own culture. But that's the first really big body language. Tip is. You just gotta look at the person now if it's a one on one conversation. We've all experienced this, whether in business meetings, more often in social situations, where the person's looking, nodding and looking behind you disease. There's something more interesting, someone more interesting there. That's a huge turn off for people. If they feel like you don't think they're important, they're not worthy of you looking at them. It's gonna make them annoyed and distract them from what they're trying to convey. So I'm gonna give you more tips in the next lecture on other aspects of body language. But I wanted to put a special spotlight on the eyes. Your eyes are powerful. It is just so much easier to understand someone and really hear them and remember what they're saying. If you're actually looking at them, because if you're looking at them by definition you're not reading Facebook messages, you're not reading too eats. You're not looking at the birds outside in the airplanes. Your mind is more focused on what they're saying, so you can make a lot of other mistakes, and you can maybe sit with your arms crossed. That, someone else would say, is a body language faux pas. If you're really looking at the person speaking to you, the vast majority of the time they're speaking, you'll be in good shape. 11. The Best Listening Body Language From the Neck Down: we talked about the eyes. When it comes to listening, what about the rest of your body? For starters, you need sort of an open stance, sitting or standing when you're listening to someone you don't want to be sort of turned off to the side. That may be fine for personal conversations, but for something important in the workplace, you want to be facing the person and leaning in a little. If you're talking in the hallway and your boss is something actually lean in a little. If you're sitting down, hold yourself up hot and lean forward. You're not at home watching your favorite sporting event. It's not about sitting back being relaxed. Beat on the chair at the table. Hold yourself high. Lean forward, less budgeting, the better. Now I don't want you to be a statue and frozen, but your hands shouldn't be fidgeting and playing with pens and making annoying sounds. Things like that that should not be your focus. Focus on being open, listening, not doing anything distracting by all means. When you're speaking, move your hands, move your body, and when you're listening to someone for the most part, you should be still But certainly your face should be expressive. Person says. Something interesting show that you're either surprised or intrigued. Nodding is very key. Now. You don't want to be this bobble headed doll and nodding the whole time. But certainly when you hear something showing there's a key concept and you understand it, you agree with it. You think it's important. Nodding is very important. Lets the person no, that you are in fact, there. Now there's a verbal equivalent to nodding when you're listening to someone just over the telephone or any other Elektronik form of communication. And that is that, Uh huh, yes, right, Got it Doesn't really matter what you say, but you don't want them to think that I just get disconnected five minutes ago. Occasionally short little things, letting people know that you got. And you can also do that when you are in person, if it's one on one. But it's not as important if they can see you nodding in agreement, nodding that you understand. So keep the body language focused open, really attentive to what the person saying, and you'll be in great shape. I wouldn't spend a lot of time worrying about mirroring. There is a whole school of thought out there says if the person speaking to you was leaning this way, that you need to lean this way. I just find for most people that over complicates things and to think about, Oh, they touch their finger like this. So now I'm gonna touch my finger like this. I understand there's some research people who really do like it and believe it. In my professional opinion, most people are not going to do that. And it's a distraction to try to focus on the whole mirroring thing. As long as you're looking respectful, relaxed, pleasant, open, nodding. Occasionally your body language will be fine. 12. Reading the Speaker's Body: Speaking of body language, you need to focus on the body language of the person speaking to you. Are they agitated? Are the getting red in the face? You really better pay attention because what they're talking about is critically important to them Now. Different people have different styles. Some people can be very angry and speak low key, soft and monitor, so you don't really know. But the more you're around colleagues, executives, bosses, higher ups, clients, customers you will get a sense of their range of communication styles, how they express themselves and how, if you said they are, some people may be wildly demonstrative all the time. Hey, everybody, let's go and have a coffee break and it isn't really putting a spotlight on anything important. Other people are more restrained, have a lot smaller body language. They're less emphatic. But if this is something they really want, we have toe have this report ready by five Friday to give to the client, and you see that their hands were moving more, their eyes were getting bigger, their eyebrows were going up more. You need to really make a note. This is something that's not a nice toe have. It's a got 1/2. It's critically important. There is, ah, high level of importance to this, So you always need to be looking at the body language, the facial expressions of the person you're speaking with and the person is trying to talk to you. This is why I highly recommend that, given a choice, talking to clients, customers, prospects try rather than default of the phone to speak to them, either In Skype video zoom, face time, Facebook video, for that matter. I'm not here to promote any one particular platform. What I am pro on is being able to see someone's base because there's so much communication that comes out when you see someone's face, it's actually easier to understand what they're saying to watching someone's lips. I realized you don't think of yourself as a lip reader, most likely, but it's much easier for comprehension if you can see someone speak. I'm sure you've had situations before where it was hard to understand someone over the phone. Perhaps they hadn't a foreign accent different from yours, but when you met with them in person, it was much easier to understand. So that's why I'm a big fan of trying. If you can't meet face to face, at least had the video component. Any time I have a prospect, call me for my media training, public speaking services. I try to get them from the phone toe live Skype video as quickly as possible. It's infinitely easier for me to really listen to them carefully. Here. Them get a sense of what's important to them and also going back the other way when I really want my prospects to listen to May I never just send a tax proposal? I always creating personalized video proposal for every single prospect who reaches out to me where I can talk to them about their specific communication needs. They're people and how I would help them, so please keep that in mind. 13. Connecting At the Emotional Level with Your Colleague To Hear All: all of us think and talk at least two different levels. There's the intellectual level, and then there's the emotional level. When you are listening to someone speak, you need to, of course, listen to the actual words and figure out the intellectual content, their messages of what they're saying. But you always have to listen to the emotional side. How do they feel about what they're talking about? As we mentioned earlier, it could be something in their body language. If they are agitated in their faces. Red. You know they might be angry or upset, but sometimes it's just going to come out in their voice. Are they raising their voice sometimes to be really serious and underlined something people will whisper, really listen to them, watch them and try to get a sense of how do they feel about the messages they're conveying to you? Clients, customers, prospects, bosses, colleagues are communicating all the time with us. Not everything is of equal importance. They're not necessarily going to tell you this is the most important thing I've said to you in the last month. Sometimes you simply have to pick up on that based on their emotional side, the emotional way, their packaging, their message. So you've gotta listen. Voice louder, softer. Sometimes it's because they're speaking faster. There's a sense of urgency. Sometimes it is in fact, the body language. So you've gotta look, listen to every aspect of what they're doing with their body, not doing with her body, doing with their voice, not dealing with their voice, to figure out exactly what they're trying to communicate at an emotional level. 14. Mastering the Art Of NOT Interrupting: Shut up. I'm sorry. I realize that sounds rude, and you're not supposed to tell people to shut up, especially in the workplace. But that is literally what I want you to do when you're listening to someone Too many of us . We hear a part of what someone said. We want to show them. We're smart, we're impatient. So we hop, right and yeah, yeah, I got it. And actually, we don't know what they're going to say. We interrupted them. So and I still face challenges with this. I'll hear a prospect. Say something that I've heard 1000 times before and I just know where they're going, and I might be right, But if I interrupt them when they've called me for the first time, I run the risk of them thinking I'm rude and I run the risk of sending a message to them that this guy isn't really gonna listen to us. He's just their toe. Give his generic stuff out. So I want to caution you. You may think you're interrupting to be a part of the conversation. You may think you're interrupting to show how smart you are, because a brilliant question has popped up. There are times to ask questions, but initially when someone is speaking to you, let them finish their main points. Certainly do not interrupt them mid sentence. It's route will be perceived as rude, and you're gonna mess up their flow. They may be putting together a relatively complex argument for you, where the fourth point doesn't make sense outside the context of the 1st 3 points and by interrupting them after the second point going off over here and answer your question. They never get to the third or fourth, even though they thought they did, because they know they started talking about that so crucial to wait. Wait until there's a pause. Wait and tell. The person is finished. Most of it, a lot of different signals will get into, but the biggest point right now. Don't interrupt. When a client customer prospector boss is speaking to you 15. Asking for Clarification Is A Great Form Of Listening: one exception to my rule about not interrupting. If you genuinely didn't hear someone or you didn't understand what they were saying or they used a word that you just don't understand, then I think it is fine to say quickly. I apologize or excuse me just a moment, but and then find out what it is they were saying. Ask them politely. Don't say you didn't say that clearly. Just say excuse me. I didn't understand what you said there. Now this happens on the phone a lot because people can be on cell phone connections. Something drops out. And rather than let the person continue and you're confused, I do think it's appropriate to say Excuse me or pardon me, But the last 20 seconds dropped out on the flight didn't hear you. Would you mind just restating it? This is good for several reasons. Number one. It allows you to actually hear what they said. So much better chance of understanding it, processing it and remembering it. Number two, you're letting the person know I really care about what you're saying. I'm listening carefully. I'm not just humoring you and doodling or off playing on Facebook. I'm actually trying to understand you, and I'm paying close attention. Put those two things together and it's gonna work in your favor every time. So don't be afraid to interrupt if it's for the explicit purpose of asking for clarification, cause you just didn't hear something or you just didn't understand. 16. Engaging In Conversation At Just the Right Time: when someone is speaking to you one on one or over the phone in person, there are times when you should be talking back as I mentioned, you don't want to just arbitrarily interrupt someone mid sentence. But when you feel like they've really covered one big point and there perhaps about to go to the next and they've actually paused to take a breath, then it is appropriate to paraphrase or restate. So if we were talking together live and you just heard the previous lecture and you wanted to practice this, you might say something like So T. J let me get this straight. Make sure I'm understanding. You're saying in general, don't interrupt people mid sentence, but if they say something and you really didn't hear it are you don't understand it, it's OK to say, Oh, excuse me, pardon me. Just didn't hear that last thing you said. Could you please restate it? That's paraphrasing. That's restating it. So this helps you at several levels, because if you know you're gonna do that, you're going to listen more actively because you're essentially gonna be testing yourself in a minute because you can't paraphrase something if you weren't actually focused and listening, so it motivates you to listen and a much more active, engaged way. Number two. It's letting the person you're speaking to know this person is really paying attention. It's a little bit flattering to I am getting through. I am a good communicator. The person is thinking, and they actually will be. If you're getting the main point now, you don't want to do this every two seconds. It can seem almost childish, but certainly every so often, especially if it's something important in your workplace, something new, something that isn't just common sense. I've never yet heard a client say to me, T. J. I hated the way you listen to me so carefully restated my needs and told me how you'd work on them. I've never heard a client say that I have heard clients say repeatedly, not about me but others. When the other person left the room like you see that person on their cell phone, we're trying to have a meeting. How rude. How disrespectful that I hear all the time. So try to listen and occasionally restate and summarize better for your own listening better for your own memory are actually going to remember it more and gives the person speaking to a breather in a sense that this meeting this conversation is actually worth while it's having an impact. 17. Strong Listening Creates Strong Reactions From You: when you're listening to someone in a workplace conversation, you don't interrupt too much as we've discussed, but you do occasionally want to react and to give back. So if your boss is telling you about how awful things were before the Internet and had to go knock door to door, there's nothing wrong with saying, Wow, you must have felt really awkward sometimes knocking on people's doors and getting the door slammed in your face. There's nothing wrong with occasionally sharing back something that relates to how the person felt, showing some empathy, showing some sympathy. You don't want to overdo it, but you also don't want to just sit back and make the person think you're just a robot. Taking everything in so occasionally, sharing back with the person expressing how you've understand they're feeling or you want to know more about their feeling can be a very helpful thing in creating a bond between you and the person who's trying to speak to you trying to communicate with you. 18. Honing Your Sense of Timing and Judgment to Make You a Great Listener: a lot of being a good active listener is about using judgment, and I can't teach everyone the best judgment for every situation and course like this. You're going to have to apply your own judgment based on the situation. If your boss pops into your office or comes over to you and your part of the work space and says I'm late for a plane, I've got to begin a cab or uber in two minutes really important. I need you to do these three things, and you can tell your boss is not looking for a big in depth conversation. Your boss here she is just trying to communicate a couple of really specific urgent things , then shake your head when you've got it. If there's any uncertainty, ask one really specific question. Perhaps as you're getting upto walk with them to the elevator. But there other times when it's not quite as urgent, you're seated. It's a meeting. It's something important. There's no set agenda when everyone has to leave. You've already listened to the key points. You've already expressed some sympathy. You've perhaps taken notes, but now it is perfectly fine to ask questions. But let me challenge you when it comes to your questions. Are you asking these questions to just show the person and others in the room how smart you are? If so, most people are pretty quick to figure that out. And if you look like you're trying to look smart, you're not gonna look smart. You need to ask questions because you genuinely want that person's insights. That's the best way to ask a question and make sure it's about trying to get greater clarity of what this person is trying to convey to you. It's not about bringing in your own agenda. It's not about showing people how smart you are. It's not really to make a point showing you disagree with a person and a rhetorical question. It's not a question to make them look stupid or bad or ill prepared. It's a question to really try to dig deeper into what their meaning is. You do that and it's going to strengthen your abilities to be a keen listener, 19. Using The Magic of Pen and Paper Tools To Your Advantage: we've discussed. It's not really a good idea to record everything in audio format or try to write down every single word. But I do think for some meetings for some presentations, you can't go wrong by taking notes. This is different from going out on a dinner date or meeting with a friend. It would look a little weird if a friend wants to tell you about troubles they're having with your spouse and you pull out a pen and paper. But this is just about the workplace. Certainly if your boss calls you into his or her office or wants to meet with you, especially if you're relatively new on the job, you cannot go wrong. Coming in with these two things. A pen and a piece of paper. It shows I respect you. I want to get it just right. I'm listening and I'm not relying just on my memory. I'm going to take notes. I realize that times are changing. We're in a digital world. Here's the problem with taking notes on a cell phone. If you're taking notes on a cell phone, there's always a part of the person speaking to you. Part of their brain thinking. Is this person really taking notes on what I'm saying? Are they checking their email and tweeting and updating their Facebook status? Because if you're three feet away for me and my phone is like this and I'm quickly, quickly, I can't really know what you're doing if you walk into the meeting and you pull out a clean sheet of paper, a note pad and a pen. Sure, in theory, you could be writing a grocery list. I understand, but in general it shows a tremendous amount of seriousness that you don't want any distractions. My recommendation only make a note when it's something really important. Certainly if it's a to do item from a client, customer or boss. But any other big insight, right? Just enough words to really jog your memory when you're looking at your notes again, you're not the court stenographer. Do not try to write everything down because that's gonna destroy your eye contact. You want to be looking at the person, so I'm a big fan of notes. But in the old fashioned format, pen or pencil talking about really old fashioned and paper, I realize this may change two years from now five years from now, 10 years from now, and there may be people in the workplace, it will say, I've never learned to write printing or cursive. Everything I've done has always been on a keyboard at that point change. But we're not there yet. In fact, in some high tech industries, if you're going for a job interview or you're going to get venture capital, it's seen as a kiss of death to be taking notes. You're seen as kind of a riel Claude someone a little bit on coupe to be taking notes on a cell phone. Ah, well known entrepreneur Venture capitalist Angel investor Jason Calacanis has even written in his book on Advice to Angel. Those seeking Angel Capital. He says, When someone comes to him seeking Angel investment and they're taking notes on a cell phone , he already writes them off way to do it. For both people in the room, the person who is the angel investor but also the person seeking capital is paper and a pen great old fashioned tool still highly useful 20. Summarizing the Conversation Is Great for You and Your Colleague: So your meeting is about to finish. You Comptel, the person speaking to you, briefing you talking to you? It's pretty much said everything they want. There may come a point when the person says Teoh. Okay, you got it. Any questions? Don't try to be Mr Miss Smarty Pants. I hope I got it all. No questions? No. Now is the time to try to summarize. Let's make sure you actually got it. And this is the perfect time to glance down at your notes. Look at your notes. Look back of the person you can just say if I'm understanding you correctly, What you really want me to do is bone bomb bow. Now, you've got a couple of options here. What could happen? Let's say you got something wrong. Now you're not spending the next three weeks on some project that was not the focus of what your boss or client wanted. It could be corrected right away. And typically someone speaking to you is happy. Teoh put you right on the best track and to correct you. They appreciate the fact that you really listen that you took notes that you're trying to get it and you needed a little bit of ah course correction a calibration, so there's no damage done in the eyes of the person speaking to you. In fact, your respect will go up in their eyes because you were trying so hard to get it and they're able to help youm or even mentor UME or in some office situation. So that's great. On the other hand, if you're getting what it is they're talking about and you're throwing back to them the summary that's exactly what they wanted you to get. Especially if you use some of their words and it's clear that you understand them and you're not just using buzzwords. They're gonna think you're a genius. They're gonna think, finally, I've got on employees here, a vendor consultant who actually gets it, who actually listens to me. So many people in life you like. Nobody listens to them, and when you can summarize what somebody says and not just a sentence or two, but in a descriptive what it's very powerful. You have to use your judgment. Of course, if the meeting is running way over and it's after six on a Friday, now's not the time to spend seven minutes summarising the previous half hour presentation or meeting or briefing. But certainly you could spend 30 seconds on it if it's not a rush situation, and it's an incredibly important present. If your boss just talk to you for two hours about a whole new strategic shift and it's 11 in the morning, I certainly might want to spend five minutes summarising my notes to the boss to make sure that I got it exactly. So Summary is fantastic because it further cements the ideas in your head. If you know you're gonna be doing it, it forces you to listen more actively. It's a chance to correct anything you got wrong at. No penalty. Imagine in college you could just give out your answers and say, Is this the right answer? And the teacher says, No, that's the answer. Well, you'd make in a on every test. He got a look at it this way. This is a way to get in a on every test. You just ask the person speaking to you the role of the teacher in this case, are you getting the right answers and they'll tell you whether you are are not. Either way, they're gonna like it. And they're gonna like the fact that you're trying hard and especially if you get it, as I mentioned, if you tell them exactly the message they were expecting using some of the words they're gonna think your genius and you'll be in great shape. So don't forget in business communication. Summarize again pretty much any time, unless you have severe time constraints. 21. The One Page Email Memo Summary Aces the Listening Skills Test Every Time!: saving the best tip for last when it comes to listening in the workplace. And that is to actually send a memo to the person speaking to you after they've spoken. Summarizing the briefing, the conversation, the talk, this the ultimate test. This is where your notes on good old fashioned paper come in handy. You're gonna look at your notes. You're going to summarize it in his brief of any male is possible. Nobody wants an extra 50 page email to go through, but summarizing perhaps the top three points of the meeting the key concepts that you think the person was really trying to convey that you do in fact remember and understand and take away and then also summarizing exactly what you think the person wants you to do and how you're going to do it. Put that in writing. It's gonna help you number one. If you know you're gonna do it, you'll be listening so much more actively. Throughout the meeting, Number two will be taking more detailed notes. Number three. You'll be processing this information in a much more powerful way, and number four you're also covering your you know what? Because if you put in the memo to your boss, the meeting and exactly what you're doing. And the boss then comes back to you two weeks later and say, Why didn't you do X from that meeting I told you about? You actually have an electronic paper trail summarizing the meeting and what was most important and your bosses response back. But yeah, received it. Got it. So it is great at so many levels. It's also frankly reminding your boss, your client customer what they said. People are funny in that people say all kinds of things and sometimes not everyone, but sometimes a lot of people who are smart, nice, good clients, good bosses forget what they said. They sometimes say contradictory things. So putting it down in text, you've read it, you've sent it to them. They've read it gives clarity for everyone. Everyone knows where they stand. You don't want to do this for every single conversation. Your boss walks up to you and the refreshment room, the lunch room, and says, Hey, let's show up five minutes early to the meeting today we're gonna talk about X. I wouldn't take the time to then write a whole memo to your boss in our conversation in the lunch room, you said, That's going too far again. You got to use your judgment. But when clients, customers, colleagues, prospects say something that is of importance, that isn't just common sense. Summarizing it, Doc. Committing it, emailing it to them, just letting them know. Hey, I listen to you. Did I get it right? Any feedback? That is the icing on the cake. If you do that, you will be not a good listener, but a great listener. 22. Conclusion Your New Reputation As a Great Listener!: congratulations. If you made it this far, it means you actually want to improve your listening skills. The good thing about listening skills is so much of it is simply about the desire. A lot of things in life aren't like that. I can desire to be an Olympic downhill skier. Not gonna happen. I can desire to dunk a basketball. Not gonna happen, but just desire ing. Just wanting to be a good listener is a huge part of what will make anyone successful anyone convey be ah, good listener. Now, I hope I have given you some tools and you actually perhaps took a few notes as we went through this course together. But if you didn't, here's one last chance to take notes. Eliminate all distractions when you're listening to someone, get rid of the cell phones, computers, noise, music Just listen clear your mind of what all the other distractions are buzzing in and out of your brain. And just listen to the person trying to have open body language. Really? Look at them. Lean forward, not sort of sit back or sloppy like you're falling asleep. And don't interrupt. Don't try to show them how smart or just listen to them. If you're really not certain of what they said or you miss something, it's okay to say, I apologize. Could you just repeat the last thing? I didn't quite catch it. It's also okay and good to show some empathy, Let thm realize you know that what they're talking about must have been stressful or difficult or fascinating. And then finally, when they have finished a point when there's a pause and you're not interrupting, it's OK to ask questions. It's OK to ask questions when you're listening to someone take notes, but don't try to transcribe everything. And when you're looking at notes at the end, try to summarize it. Say, Hey, if I'm getting this right, what you really want me to do is boom, boom, boom! Summarize at the end of the briefing, the talk of the conversation give the person a chance to correct you or also to just make sure you really got it. Finally, that extra special something to be used with clients, bosses and not in every single communication but for important ones. Send them an actual email summarizing all the important points you heard and what you think they want you to do? Do that. Do those things consistently and you're listening. Skills will be one of your best assets in your whole tool kit and soft skills that will help propel your entire career upwards. I'm t. J Walker. Thanks so much for listening to May.