Become an active listener

Why would a farm financier and consultant want to write about listening?

In my work in the rural sector, I often find people experiencing financial and emotional difficulties do not fully listen to the advice given by their professionals, in fact many do not listen at all.

I was recently involved in resolving a matrimonial situation where the husband wanted to talk but not listen. As soon as his wife spoke, he talked over her without giving her a chance to be heard. When I tactfully pointed this out, he had no idea of what he was actually doing.

So what do you need to do? Here are a few simple ideas to be an effective listener?
  • Make a conscious decision to listen. This is actually quite difficult but make a commitment, slow down and concentrate on listening to what the other person is saying. Look at them – your eyes. Don't interrupt.
  • Be objective and don't be judgemental.
  • Try to step into the other person's shoes and look at the situation from their point of view. You may find this hard, but I have found if you consider things from the other person's perspective and how it is affecting them, you will better understand what they are really saying.
  • Try to draw a mental picture of what is being said. People retain only 7% of what they hear and 85% of what they see, so if you visualise you will find it helps tremendously.
  • Take notes. In my work I always take notes and you would be amazed at the number of times it is necessary to refer to them. It also helps to have something to refer to when you leave.
  • Connect with the person who is speaking by being an active listener. This involves actually commenting positively about what has been said. One way to do this is to summarise their comments by saying something like: "so, from what you've said I understand that you mean ………" Look out for the shocked expression of the speaker when they realise you have really listened, have taken their message on board and are able to repeat it.
In farming industry as in any industry, listening is just another skill you need to acquire. If you hear what others are saying and inwardly digest it, the speaker will feel better and you will have a much clearer understanding of what they are trying to tell you.

When you are actively listening, realise that people will only tell you 20% of what is really going on. In other words, they are withholding 80% from you. It's a lot isn't it? Armed with this piece of knowledge, it is easy to see why you need to ask questions to get points clarified.

Being a good listener is a lot like being a good friend. People all over the world just want to talk, they don't want to listen. If you can become an active listener, it's amazing what you will learn.


Being a good listener to your family and staff can not only be rewarding but may make your life a lot happier as the people around you feel more valued and understood. Why? Because they know you are really listening, not waiting for a break so you can pop in your two bobs worth. Hone up your listening skills and the reward is yours.


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