I recently saw a poster which read, “Listen and Silent both contain the same letters and you can’t do one without the other.” This is a great reminder.
To listen effectively, that is, to actually hear what is being said, you have to be silent. Said differently, if you’re talking, you sure ain’t listening! :)
A technique I suggest to the team I work with is to mentally count to 3 after asking a question. This silence allows the person responding to think about their answer and prevents you from jumping in before they have had a chance to answer (stepping on their respond as it were. In this way, they will be able to impart information to you. (They’ll also think you’re incredibly polite, be flattered that you’re listening to them and will be more inclined to speak with you, now and in the future.
Whether it’s working with an SME, a fellow member of your proposal group or even a friend, spouse or child, if you allow for a bit more silence, you’ll listen more effectively and ultimately receive more information.