One of the most important skills I’ve learned in my 15 years as a consultant is the ability to listen. And one of the best ways to ensure that you are listening is simply this: when you’re in a conversation where you’re trying to learn something, let the other person finish their thought before you start talking.
I don’t know if it’s because everyone is in a rush these days, or that people are just trying to show how smart they are, but it’s amazing to me how often I see listeners interrupt a speaker in order to finish their thought or answer their question before the speaker has had a chance to finish. And of course, as often as not, the interrupter is answering a question that wasn’t going to be asked, thus wasting everyone’s time and requiring the original speaker to speak even more!
One of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “Seek first to understand.” My advice to you when you’re speaking with someone: let the other speaker finish their thought before you respond. You might just learn something!