Schedule Specific Meeting Times – Scheduling meetings allows you to block off specific pockets of time to focus solely on the needs of clients and employees. Regardless of whether you meet in person or via teleconference, turn off your cell phone and shut your door so you can dedicate all of your attention during that time.
Taking notes during your conversation can help you maintain focus and uncover new ideas and questions as the meeting progresses. Write down phrases to summarize what's being said, ask for clarification as necessary so you fully understand, and make eye contact regularly when meeting in person to communicate that you're listening.
Summarize the Conversation
After listening to what your client or employee has to say, ask any questions you have and then repeat specific pieces of information so everyone knows they are on the same page. Not only will you be better able to meet specific needs, you'll also communicate to others that you're an active listener that really cares about the situation.
Send a Clarification Email
If meeting via teleconference, send an email summarizing the meeting the by the close of business on same day. Include a bullet point summary of what was discussed and any follow-up questions you have. Since you can't make eye contact or gauge body language during a teleconference, a simple email lets people know that you've heard them correctly and allows for future dialogue.
Becoming a good listener requires patience, genuine interest in understanding others, and the commitment to follow-through with what's discussed during a meeting. Some people are natural listeners while others need to slow down and remind themselves to quiet their inner monologue to really hear what other people are saying. And while this may be awkward for you at first, over time you will start to listen more effectively and earn the respect of employees and continued business of clients and customers. Good luck!