The 6 Steps of Good Listening

You have one mouth and two ears, yet it is far more likely that you have excellent public speaking skills and, well, listening skills that are lacking a bit.  If you find yourself asking others to repeat themselves, missing deadlines or information, or forgetting important events, the following 6 ways to practice good listening can help:

Focus

Stop what you are doing and ignore your computer, smartphone, paperwork, or the task at hand to focus on the person speaking to you.  You may be surprised at how effective your conversations become, saving you time and frustration down the road.

Stop talking

Wait for the other person to stop talking before you pipe up with a comment or question.  Frequent interruptions can drag out a conversation and muffle important information.

Be open minded

Don’t make a decision until you listen to everything the other person has to say.  By staying open minded, you will better understand the issue, develop rapport and trust, and earn a reputation for being fair and non-judgmental.

Read between the lines

People speak with emotion.  Pay attention to pitch, intonation, hesitation, and speed of delivery, which will help you read between the lines and understand their true feelings about the subject at hand.

Listen and boost your memory

Better listening will actually help you improve your memory. As you listen, keep track of the highlights of what the other person is saying, and repeat that information back on occasion.  Be careful to not be “reloading” (figuring out how you will respond while they are still talking) when the person is talking to you.  Listen.  This exercise will also confirm the accuracy of what you are hearing and what is really being said.

Nonverbal communication is key

Did you know that body language comprises 55% of communication and tone of voice counts for 38%, while words only make up 7%?  If what you are saying verbally doesn’t match what you are saying nonverbally, your message could get lost.

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