Updated: Dec 18, 2020
Have you perfected the art of active listening yet? It's an essential aspect of your English learning journey and an important aspect of emotional intelligence that requires you to be completely present with another person.
When you’re not listening actively, you’re thinking about what you’ll say next. Rather, your focus is 100% on the other person. When you're stressed about what you'll need to say next, you're more likely to miss out on important information. It's also tough to be in the moment when you're thinking about the next intelligent thing you need to say next.
So what can you do to prepare?
To take the focus off yourself focus on learning some good questions but also try not to worry so much about asking if you don't always understand everything you hear in a meeting. Don't be afraid to ask if you don't understand something.
Many of my coaching clients get tongue-tied when it comes to the MOST SIGNIFICANT part of active listening: asking questions.
They overthink their responses and end up getting so stuck in their head trying to say the “right” thing or wondering if the other person is judging them), that they lose sight of the goal of the conversation, which is to make sure the message comes across.
The best way to do this is to learn and practice essential questions.
I have made a list of some of the important questions you might ask in a meeting to help you feel more prepared. Why not jot some of them down on your notebook or print the list to have it handy for all your meetings.
You can download the free quick reference PDF of all these questions here.
When you want to clarify if someone has understood something or what they understand
Would you add or make any changes?
What are your thoughts on...?
What do you think is best?
How does this look to you?
What’s your impression of ___?
When you need to clarify something
What do you mean?
Could you explain more about what you mean?
Could you explain what isn't clear?
What’s the ideal outcome?
When you want more information
Could you tell me more about ...?
What other ideas/thoughts/feelings do you have about....?
Could you give an example, so I know what you mean?
When you disagree, but you want to make it diplomatic.
Could we look at it this way instead ....
I have an alternative idea, could I share it?
I'd love to make a suggestion ...
I'd like to offer an alternative.
When you want to challenge someone to think about the design more innovatively or creatively.
Could we explore this further, I think we can do more?
What other ways could we approach this?
What are the other options?
What approach could we try?
When you want to understand more about choices
Could you explain why you did this, I think I understand it differently.
What led up to it?
What have you tried so far?
How could you turn this around next time?
When you want to suggest going away to explore further options
What is our plan of attack?
Have we made enough progress so far, or do we need to explore more?
What support do you need to accomplish it?
What is getting in the way?
How can we make this work?
Moving forward, what are some of the ways we can make this work?
When someone disagrees with your ideas
What suggestions do you have for improvement?
Before we address the drawbacks, could you explain what is working for you?
Have any questions or want more information about how you can work with me or you want to know more about how to improve your confidence in meetings? Send me an email anytime, and I'll be happy to point you in the right direction.