Listener Spotlight: Dr. Pamela Cooper
It’s not the response you’re looking for after describing in great detail your innermost thoughts and feelings to a friend, but similar half-hearted responses are all too familiar to most of us. We’ve all been victim to disinterested communicators who are more involved in their iPhone than in what we’re saying. It’s discouraging, to say the least. But even though we’ve all been on the receiving end of bad communication, how often are we the culprits?
Are you a good listener?
It’s easy to assume that since you have the ability to listen, you’re automatically a good listener. But, over the many years we’ve spent communicating with customers and fine-tuning our listening habits to support our “We Hear You” promise, we’ve come to understand that just because you are capable of listening, doesn’t mean you necessarily have mastered the skill.
Like anything that’s worthwhile — listening takes practice. It’s more difficult than we give it credit for and no one knows this better than Dr. Pamela Cooper.
Dr. Cooper has dedicated her career to the study and implementation of good listening habits. She is the Vice President of the International Listening Association and a communications professor. She recognizes that listening takes significant effort and attributes that to why some people are bad listeners. Most people don’t realize that listening is hard work.
She explains, “It takes a lot of energy to listen. We can process 400 words a minute in our brain, but we speak at 125, so we’ve got some time lags there and we have a tendency to wander off.”
How to become a better listener
In her many years of experience, Dr. Cooper has come to understand the importance of being a good listener and explains that active listening is key to improving your ability to listen. She offersfour ways to help you achieve active, engaged listening:
- Seek to understand before you seek to be understood
It’s difficult to do, but before you jump to shedding light on your own situation, take a moment to understand where the speaker is coming from. This takes practice and discipline but can work wonders in your relationships.
- Be non-judgmental
Judgment can seem nearly impossible to eliminate in its entirety since it is so difficult to muffle our own personal opinions while another is speaking; however, it is crucial that we do so if we want to have meaningful conversations.
- Give undivided attention to the speaker
In a time where your connection to the world is at your fingertips 24/7, it’s difficult to let go of such a powerful tool and focus on the moment. But it is so important that we do, as truly focusing on the person speaking lessens potential confusion and miscommunication.
- Use silence effectively
Silence isn’t a bad thing in conversation, especially on the receiver’s end. Avoid interrupting by using non-verbal cues instead of verbal cues indicating that you’re paying attention. Also, don’t assume that you know where they’re going with the conversation: once you assume it’s easy to interrupt or tune out for the rest of the conversation.
At Ken Garff, we value great listeners and appreciate those that can educate us on how to improve our own listening skills. Thanks to Dr. Pamela Cooper and similar listening experts, we can improve how effectively we listen and strengthen the relationships we have with our customers. Hopefully you, in turn, can do the same in your own relationships by employing these helpful tips.