Improve Your Listening Skills

Most folks think a great communicator is a person with excellent speaking skills. This is true to some extent, but speaking is only one part of effective communications. Listening is equally important. In fact, some people think being a good listener is the more valuable of the two skills, reasoning that because we have two ears and only one mouth, we are meant to do twice as much listening as speaking.

Obviously, you'll learn more from what other people say than from what you say. With this in mind, it is imperative to be a good listener. Listening well is a sign that you respect your superiors, especially your boss, and that you have good manners. And contrary to what some people think, you'll be a more interesting person if you listen intently when others are talking rather than trying to dominate the conversation by refusing to let anyone else voice an opinion.

Some people have a habit of interrupting before other people finish talking. It's a good idea for everyone to practice waiting briefly, say, half a second, before speaking. At WolfCreek, we've learned the value of this pause quite unintentionally.

Our video conferencing network is one of the world's largest; we use it daily for class lectures and interviews. But its 1/6 second sound delay makes it impossible to interrupt! We get great feedback from people praising this sound delay feature because it makes them pause, reflect, and allow the other person to finish his statement.

Seven Tips for Being a Good Listener:

  1. Make eye contact and focus on the other person.
  2. Concentrate on what the other person is saying.
  3. Be willing to learn from the conversation.
  4. Listen with the intent of gathering information and building rapport.
  5. Fine-tune your antenna so that you are aware of what people want and need. Pay attention to phrases such as "I want," "I need," "I'm looking for," or "I have a problem with".
  6. No matter how much restraint it takes, never interrupt. After someone has spoken, pause a moment before taking your turn to speak.
  7. Nod your head periodically when somebody is talking to acknowledge that you are listening.

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