Few things are more frustrating than speaking with someone who isn’t listening. Distracted by their phone a noisy room or busy mind, bad listeners seem to be multiplying in modern society.

What’s a communicator to do?

Rebecca Knight on HBR has some great ideas like tell the person upfront that what you’re about to say is important. And create accountability about what the conversation needs to accomplish (like a decision on X).

Knight recommends following up important communication with, “Does this make sense?” However, a distracted listener could say, “What? Oh! Yes. Sure!” which doesn’t give you any clue about what they’ve actually heard.

Instead, we’d suggest asking the listener to summarize what was said in their own words. Frame it up as a great way to know if the idea was communicated well, not meant to see if they were listening. With the objective of mutual understanding, you’ll know if it was effectively communicated…and if not, you’ll have the opportunity for a do-over.

Have a whiz bang strategy for transforming bad listening? Comment away! Or send us a message.


Photo by Jacob Ufkes on Unsplash.