Practicing Active Listening Skills
Have you been practicing your active listening skills? My wife and I are back in Austin for a week to get some “stuff” done like getting the car registration renewed. I am very specifically working on practicing my active listening skills.
When we were back in Austin in May to get vaccinated against COVID-19, I discovered that my active listening skills had deteriorated.
Check out my podcast episode from the visit called Getting Back to Normal – My Observations from 26 Coffee Meetings [Podcast].
Specifically, I want to reconnect and awaken some dormant ties. I wrote about awakening dormant ties last week.
Let me take you through my process that I hope you might find useful.
I have found taking a broad-based approach to letting people know we are in town and open to a meeting is very effective.
Several weeks ago, I posted on Facebook that we would be in Austin. By the way, I rarely post on Facebook. At the end of a post about our dear cat Rex passing away I mentioned we would be in Austin. Only those who read all the way to the end would know we are coming.
I have set up a couple of meetings with some very dormant ties including someone I worked for over 30 years ago.
As you could imagine I have a moderately large email list and I put out the word that I will be in Austin this week. This was on purposely short notice. Only those who are actively reading my weekly newsletter and live in Austin am I interested in speaking with. I want to discuss with them how I can improve my website, podcast, and/or newsletter.
Lastly, I have emailed and called several people who I have known for years to who I want to reconnect. This includes one gentleman who the last time we met in May, I realized that I did a horrible job of listening.
My plan is to have a strategy on how I want to put my focus on the person I am meeting.
For example, my former IBM manager left being my manager for another job. I completely lost track of where she went. My goal is to practice active listening skills to enable her to tell me her story.
Another example, I will be meeting with a former client who survived the pandemic by taking contract work, and now has landed an excellent position. I want to hear how she managed to keep herself sane during the pandemic. I then want to know how she managed to land her current position.
Focus and Practicing Active Listening Skills
I want to focus on the following active listening skills:
- Asking open-ended questions
- Asking probing questions
If I focus on these few and simple active listening skills, I am likely to get the practice I need.
I am meeting with dormant, weak, and strong ties while I am in Austin. This should give me a variety of relationships on which to practice my active listening skills.
Let me know what you think of this strategy.