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Are you taking time to listen?
Ten Steps to Effect Listening
- Face the speaker and maintain eye contact.
- Be attentive yet relaxed.
- Keep an open mind.
- Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying.
- Don’t interrupt and don’t impose your “solutions”.
- Wait for the speaker to pause to ask clarifying questions.
- Ask questions only to ensure understanding of something that has been said (avoiding questions that disrupt the speaker’s train of thought).
- Try to feel what the speaker is feeling.
- Gibe the speaker regular feedback, e.g.: summarize, reflect feelings, or simply say “uh huh”.
- Pay attention to what isn’t being said – to feelings, facial expressions, gestures, posture and other nonverbal cues.
Listening is a precious gift – the gift of time. It helps build relationships, solve problems, ensure understanding, resolve conflicts and improve accuracy.
More Listening Tips
Mentally screen out distractions, like background activity and noise. In addition, try not to focus on the speaker’s accent or speech mannerisms to the point where they become distractions. Finally, don’t be distracted by your own thoughts, feelings or biases.
- When listening for long stretches, focus on (and remember) key words and issues.
- When dealing with difficult people, spend more time listening than speaking.
- When in doubt about whether to listen or speak, keep listening.