Yeah, yeah, listening is important.

You know that. I know that.

We figure we listen all the time. It’s habitual, like brushing our teeth.

But are we being the best listeners we can be? Or is there room for improvement?

When your goal is to connect – versus conflict – with the people in your life, being a good listener can get you there faster.

Check your calendar: March is International Listening Month, and the folks at HRDQ compiled this list of listening tips for improved communication:

Stay Focused

  • Mentally prepare to listen
  • Create an environment conducive to listening
  • Approach listening as an opportunity to learn
  • Give your mind a visual pointer

Capture the Message

  • Humanize the speaker
  • Take strategic notes
  • Don’t miss the forest for the trees
  • Practice asking different kinds of questions
  • Create comprehension checkpoints

Help the Speaker

  • Take a breath before you interrupt
  • Put your ego on hold
  • Eliminate distractions
  • Prepare to be tested

There are a few great reminders in that list for me to follow (especially “mentally prepare to listen”). How about you?