Peter Drucker once said, “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”
Listening for what is not being said is a definite skill.
Most people listen whilst getting ready to reply.
Some have mastered listening to understand.
Few listen for the meaning in what is being said and not said.
I can’t pretend for a second that I have mastered this skill but here are the tactics I employ to listen for what is not being said.
1. Slow down. Don’t be so quick to reply. Wait for people to finish what they are saying and make sure you’ve taken it in.
2. Ask questions. Probe topics from different angles. By triangulating your questions you can truly drill down to the truth.
3. Summarise really well. Play back what you have heard and check that you have understood correctly.