You’re A Bad Listener: Here’s How To Remember What People Say
“I just told you that. Don’t you ever listen!?”
That’s what your parents said to you long ago. Now sitting in your office, your manager is saying the same thing. Of course, you listen, but perhaps not as well as you could be. It may come as a surprise that there is more than one reason you could be having a hard time remembering what people say. And it has nothing to do with you not interested in the topic at hand. Plenty of professionals will catch themselves walking away from a conversation asking themselves, “Who was it that they needed me to send an email to about a project? What project was it?” If you find yourself in this position, it is time to change the way you listen to and remember what people say.
Signs you are a bad listener
The best way to know whether or not you are a good listener is to reflect on previous conversations and see if there is a habit you can change. The most common reasons why people become poor listeners is because they are no longer engaged enough with conversations. While assessing your listening skills, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have others asked me to stop interrupting them?
- Has someone critiqued me on my body language like eye contact or being fidgety?
- How frequent has someone said, “Don’t get defensive about it”?
- Do you tend to hurry the speaker along with nonverbal cues or with a go-to excuse?
- Are you more eager for your turn to speak that you forget what they are trying to communicate?
- Do you find that you engage yourself with the other person asking followup questions and remarking on the conversation as a whole?
- Do you find yourself drifting away from the conversation and thinking about something else?
- Have you already forgotten their name are spending more time thinking about that?
How to remember what people say
Cash Nickerson, the author of The Samurai Listener, has the solution to becoming a better listener. All you have to remember is the acronym, ARE U PRESENT:
Awareness: Before the conversation begins, get off your phone, make eye contact, and push aside any other thoughts running through your mind.
Reception: Be open to new subjects, topics that you don’t understand, and opinions different from your own.
Engagement: Stick to the playbook of, “I’ll talk, then you talk, then I’ll talk.”
Understanding: After someone finishes what they’re saying, ask questions so that you are both on the same page and will walk away from the discussion fully aware of the conversation that took place.
Persistence: No matter how dull the conversation is, make a vow to stay present and in the moment. Do your best to resist falling deep into your own thoughts.
Resolution: When the conversation is over, devise a plan for your next steps. Have a to-do list ready with actionable steps that will help you to remember the conversation.
Emotions: Emotions play a significant role in why some people have a hard time recalling the purpose of a conversation. If the topic gets heated, your emotions take center stage and your attention to what the discussion is about. Politely excuse yourself if need be to recenter yourself for better success at recalling the information later.
Senses: Exhibiting body language, like smiling and nodding, all contribute to a more engaging, productive, and memorable conversation.
Ego: Be a humble human being and leave your ego at the table each time you enter a new conversation. Letting your ego get the best of you could cost you more than remembering what someone said.
Nerves: Are you feeling anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed in a conversation? Do your best to relax and stay calm. You’ll be grateful you did when later on, you’re able to reconcile with your boss on a project you made a mistake on.
Tempo: Sync up with the speaker and continue the conversation at their pace. If you get held up on something they said, politely interrupt them and ask for clarification before they continue.
Listening is a sign of respect, and those that can recall minor details of conversations become the students and employees people want to work with. For those that are entering into the next phase in their life as a professional, now more than ever do you want to perfect your listening skills. For more tips on adequately communicating with others, take our How To Talk To Anyone To Advance Your Career online course. You’ll learn how to improve your communication, networking & social skills so you can find the job you love and reduce anxiety around social situations. Click the link to learn more today.