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Effective Communication Skills-Do You Know How To Listen?

Posted 13 years ago

Effective Communication Skills-Common Sense Listening Tips

We all do it.  We get excited about a topic, and forget to pay attention to those we are speaking with.  Or we get so wrapped up in voicing our opinion we fail to listen for others.  Remembering some simple rules will improve your communications, not to mention your relationship.

Let others tell their own stories first. By letting them speak first, you save time. When their interests are revealed you can tailor your discussion to their particular needs, goals, and objectives and can avoid useless, time wasting conversation.

It is impossible to listen and talk at the same time. Don’t rush to say your piece. Why not wait until the speaker’s point is made? Then you will have your chance.

Listen for the main ideas.  A good listener tries to guess the points the speaker will make.  Then get feedback.  If you guess correctly, your understanding is enhanced, and your attention is increased.  If you are incorrect, you learn from your mistake.

Be sensitive to your emotional deaf spots.  Deaf spots are words that make your mind wander off.  Everyone is affected by certain words so it is important to discover your own individual stumbling blocks and analyze why these words have such a huge effect on you.

Fight off distractions.  Train yourself to listen carefully despite external distractions. Through practice you can improve your power of concentration and block out external and internal distractions and attend totally to the speaker.

Don’t trust your memory if you hear data that may be important.  Take brief notes because listening ability is impaired while you are writing.  Write notes in words and phrases rather than complete thoughts.  All you need is something to jog your memory later in the day, and then you can recall the complete content of the message.

React to the message, not the person.  Don’t allow your mental impression of the speaker influence your acceptance of his/her message.

Try to appreciate the emotion behind the words (vocal and visual) more than the literal meaning of the words.

Use feedback. Do not only hear what you want to hear. Check to see if the other person wants to comment or respond to what you have previously said.

Listen selectively. Critical messages may be hidden within a conversation. Listen to weed out “the garbage-in” so there is less “garbage-out” in the conversation.

Relax. When another person speaks, try to make him/her comfortable and relaxed. Give him/her a chance to speak his/her mind. You’ll get your turn.

Try not to be critical, either mentally or verbally, of the other person’s point of view. Keep those emotions in check. Allow the speaker time to finish his/her thought. You might find that what you were initially going to disagree with wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

Listen attentively. Face the speaker, lean slightly forward. Establish gentle, intermittent eye contact.

Create a positive listening environment. Try to have that conversation in a place that is conducive to effective listening.

Ask questions. Ask open‑ended questions to allow the speaker to express his feelings and thoughts.

Be motivated to listen.  Try to keep in mind that there is no such thing as an uninteresting speaker, only disinterested listeners. The effort to listen is worth, you’ll see.