When I wrote my first book, I discussed the issue of listening skills. That topic came to mind again when I was asked by a journalist recently to comment on people's tendency to read/send email in meetings. Here are some key questions (from that book) to consider with regard to assessing your own listening skills:
1. Do you avoid eye contact when others are speaking to you?
2. Do you multi-task during meetings?
3. Do you interrupt often when others are talking?
4. Do you rarely pause to solicit feedback or questions while you are speaking?
5. Do you become easily distracted when others are presenting their ideas?
6. Do you engage in side conversations on a regular basis during meetings?
7. Do you provide many more answers than questions during group discussions?
8. Do you rarely rephrase people’s statements and confirm your interpretation?
One more key question comes to mind now as well. Do you begin to formulate your response before someone has finished making their point? That's a sure sign that you aren't listening well. We all do it, of course. It's quite natural. However, we need to be mindful that thinking ahead in this fashion probably means we are missing some critical elements of what a colleague is trying to communicate to us.