You’ve asked a question—now give the person a chance to answer it! How?
Concentrate on what the person is saying: listen to his or her choice of words. Are they friendly? Unsure? Negative? Confirming?
Watch the non-verbal messages. Ask yourself: Where is his/her response leading?
Listening sends the message that you care about them and that what they say is important to you. Good listeners also separate themselves from the competition by:
- Being open minded and staying curious about new ideas. You can’t listen if you have already decided how you “want” the other person to answer your questions.
- Taking notes—it will help you come up with additional thoughts and questions based on key points the person states (though, to put the other person at ease, be sure to ask permission before you start writing).
- Being silent. This gives other a chance to organize their thoughts and then state what’s on their minds. It also avoids cutting off their follow-on thought before they have a chance to express it.
- Using verbal and visual signs that show you are paying attention, such as nodding your head when you agree, repeating key words or phrases, acknowledging or summarizing what you heard.
- Asking a follow-up question rather than reacting or responding to their comments.