About 12 years ago, I met a 75 year old man in a coaching class on listening. That man was one of the best listeners I've encountered in my life. I could tell by the things he said and asked. At the end of the class when we were all reviewing what we had learned, he said, “Boy, I have a lot to learn about listening”. That moment has stayed with me for the length of my coaching career. Even at 75 there's the insight and motivation to get better and better at listening.

In communication, listening is as important a skill to master as speaking. Listening establishes a feeling and connection that has become rather rare in our fast pace world of constant messages bombardment.  You know the feeling you get when you speak with someone who's a good listener? It's priceless. If you give someone else that feeling in business, you create a bond with that person that could make the difference between a potential client and an actual client. The other advantage of listening well is you get more information and insight regarding the situation you and the other person are dealing with, so together you can make a difference.

These thoughts are common sense, and I'm sure you're a great listener, when you're listening!  But what happens when you're feeling stressed, anxious or in a hurry, and your listening skills are at risk.  Here are a few tips to enhance your listening skills when they might otherwise escape you.

1.  Take The Time -  If you know that listening better would make a difference, make sure to structure your time so you don't feel rushed.  Yes... time management is a listening skill.  With time and patience, you can listen longer, deeper, with few if any interruptions, and really foster complete communication.
2. Be Generous With The "Space" - I used to think my own best gift was my enthusiasm and my words, but usually just "holding the space" can also provide a great gift. When you have a dialogue, and you sense the other person wanting to interrupt, let them! If you feel a temptation to interrupt, jot down a few words to remind you of your thoughts so you can share them when it's your turn again. Then return to focussed listening.
3.  Feedback - Repeat the exact words that person was saying, giving the speaker the confidence that the message really came across and is valued.  This also alters your mindset to really focus on what the other person is conveying rather than what your brain might interpret or mis-interpret. 

With the faith that a positive outcome will occur if you listen longer, you will find yourself causing more positive outcomes. This doesn't mean shutting up and not getting your message across at all. It means knowing when to speak up and when to hold back. Time and time again, I've seen people create exciting breakthroughs with more thoughtful listening.

We will explore this subject further and deeper during my free monthly teleseminar on Thursday May 19th at noon EST.  I invite you to tune in for some practical applications and methods for becoming a better listener and have a more powerful impact on your specific challenges and goals.

Author's Bio: 

Jonathan Flaks, M.C.C., Business Success Coach - http://www.jfcoach.com. Since 1998, Jonathan has been helping entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals focus on and reach ambitious goals, maintain continuous confidence and motivation, and achieve balanced success. Jonathan maintains a Master Certified Coach distinction from the International Coach Federation. He earned a dual degree from Cornell University and was Adjunct Professor in Business Leadership and Coaching Skills for New York University. Clients have come from BMG Entertainment, Morgan-Stanley-Smith-Barney, KPMG, Disney, Deloitte, Honeywell, Goldman Sachs, and many entrepreneurial and professional service firms. If you want to start every week with a positive, confident attitude, visit Monday Morning Mini-Motivation Meetings.