Tip #3 Fire the second dart.
You can guide the conversation and train yourself to listen at the same time by asking an intelligent follow up questions.
You should always ask questions in pairs. The first question gets the person started, but the second question is the one that should hit it home. We call this, “firing the second dart,” and we’ve mentioned it in previous blog posts on Mindmaven. If you want to deliver a really great second dart, you have to listen attentively to the person’s answer. Not only are you conditioning yourself to listen, having a follow up question increases the perception of being a good listener and making others feel heard.
When it comes to active listening, you won’t be perfect right out of the gate, especially if your mind is quite untrained. You’ll certainly encounter a few challenges. You might initially catch yourself drifting away from what the person says on a regular basis. As you come across this, just accept it as something that is simply bound to happen and be okay with that until you really hone your skills. It is bound to happen, so you need to handle the situation skillfully when you become aware that you are not listening anymore.
The most skillful response is to quickly accept that your thoughts ran away with you and tune back into the conversation as soon as possible. Don’t panic and dwell on the fact that you stopped listening. If you feel you have missed something that you think might be very important, be comfortable in asking the individual to repeat what he or she said to make sure you got it right.
The road to becoming an active listener might be a bumpy one, but using some of these tips should help make it a smoother ride.