As a developer, you constantly engage with other stakeholders throughout the project. You talk to them, you listen to them, and you process the data from conversations into information.
Good listening skills will change your business landscape
An important element of these type of interactions is listening. Being a good listener is not easy, and it's a good idea to practice and improve your listening skills. Lacking good listening skills can generate problems like incorrect implementations due to misunderstanding of the requirements and therefore rework. Here are some suggestions to improve your listening skills!
When you ask a question or ask for someone's opinion, let the other person talk and don't interrupt them. Even if they interrupt you, let them talk, after all, you need input from them. Being interrupted means the other person is looking for clarification on what you're saying. So embrace being interrupted when you need input from someone!
When listening to someone, look at them in the eyes to make sure you're focused on what they're saying -but don't maintain permanent eye contact, every now and then make you're you look away. If you're not looking at the person that is talking chances are you'll get distracted. Maintaining eye contact can be intimidating if you're shy, so make sure that while you're listening you're aware of your own behavior, so that if you realize you're not looking at the other person, you can take action to make sure your eyes are focused on the other person. A good listener, for example, won't get distracted by looking at their watch, or will play with a pen, or start doodling.
To make sure you understand, echo back what you understood to the other party. This way they'll let you know if you missed something. It's also a good way to summarize the main points of the conversation.
You can also practice active listening, which means showing verbal and non-verbal signs of listening. This includes nodding your head, or agreeing by saying words like "yes" or "right". This lets the other person know that they're being listened to and encourages them to continue talking. But don't over do it!
If the other person speaks very softly, try leaning forward, or even if they don't speak softly, leaning forward is a sign of active listening. You can also try resting your head in your hand, this is a sign of interest in what the other person is saying.
Finally, remember that you don't have to put in practice all these techniques in every conversation. It really depends on the context, for example, if you're not sitting, leaning forward won't be an option. Or if it's a complex conversation topic, you'll probably ask clarification questions at the very end, once you have all the context.