How many people really know how to listen? So often we listen while thinking about what we are going to say next. We wait for the break in the conversation so we can add our input. You already know what you are thinking. You already know you have great ideas.

It's time for you to build an environment that people feel inspired to share what is on their mind...and for you to increase your effectiveness and your world by truly hearing the worthwhile things others have to share.

Here are seven things to know to listen like a pro:

  1. Think about the purpose. Why is this person communicating with you? Do they have something to share? Are they trying to work through a challenge? Be open to where the conversation may go. Often it is much deeper than where it starts.
  2. Trust they can solve their own problems. Everyone is capable of solving his or her own problems. It is often just a matter of them tuning into their heart and having confidence in themselves. If you believe in them, it will help them believe in themselves.
  3. Pay attention. Put everything else on hold. When truly listening, humans are not capable of multi-tasking. Set a time boundary if needed and communicate that to them. Then be present and really listen to what they have to say.
  4. Stop making assumptions. When you make assumptions about what the other person is going to say it stops the flow of energy. Plus, there is a high likelihood your assumptions are wrong. We all see the world through our own filters. Everyone has a unique perspective based on their own experiences in life. Let them share what that perspective is.
  5. Be curious. Ask questions. Ask what makes their heart sing. Ask questions that explore their fears or hesitations. Ask questions that push them beyond their comfort zone. Ignite the other person to go beyond their perceived limitations with thought provoking questions and you may both learn something new.
  6. Do not interrupt. As the one talking, you know if someone is listening or not. You can feel if the other person is just waiting for their chance to chime in. This tendency can make people nervous and closed off. People may not have time (or the space) to fully articulate a thought, and therefore may not get to the heart of a revelation.
  7. Listen without judgment. Shakespeare says "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Are you thinking as the other person is talking? Let go of all judgments and just listen to what the other person is saying. This allows the other individual to really speak openly and authentically.

Practice these ideas at the office. Practice these ideas at home. In turn you'll benefit by hearing inspiring ideas from independent thinking; seeing everyone around you being more authentic, and ultimately more fulfilled. You'll also feel more connected. At the end of the day, isn't that why we are all here - to hear, and be heard, and to be seen, and yes, understood.