Four Steps to Become Better at Listening – Slowly and Carefully

By Harvard Business Review
May 31, 2018

Physicians and leaders who devote more attention to how they communicate and listen can reduce unnecessary conflict and increase clarity.

Talking at a slower pace and being more intentional about listening are important skills for physicians and physician leaders.

This four-step process can feel unnatural when first put into practice. Colleagues might regard you strangely if you’re someone who usually charges forward with your agenda. And you might be tempted to insert your opinions instead of truly listening, interpreting, verifying and considering points of intersection.

However, with practice, listening slowly will reduce unnecessary cross-talk and conflict and increase clarity.

Understand what’s being said: How much more would you understand about what’s being said in a meeting if you were to single-mindedly focus on the conversation? You can do this by leaving your devices off the table and taking margin notes in meetings.

Interpret what’s been said: Once you’ve heard someone speak, put their words in context. What do they mean, based on the purpose of your discussion, what the speaker cares most about and what’s been said before? It all depends on the context.

Verify what’s been said: Don’t assume you understand; confirm what was said. This can be as simple as paraphrasing what you think you heard.

Consider how your point of view relates to what’s been said: Many times, the biggest thing getting in our way of listening is waiting to interject with our own point of view. Instead, allow other views to shape your perspective. Instead of hastily blurting out a counterargument, consider how your points relate to what has just been said.

 Copyright 2017 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

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