By Peter Murphy
“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”
If everyone would just develop this one communication skill, most communication problems would disappear. If you are honest with yourself, the last time you got into a misunderstanding with someone, it was because you weren’t really listening to what they said.
Active listening is a communication skill that is easy to learn and valuable in all areas of life. Remember, you can’t learn something new while you are talking – only when you listen can you learn. Here are some pointers to becoming an active listener:
1. If you are not really sure you understand what the other person is saying, try repeating what they said back to them, in a slightly different way: “So, what you’re saying is….” You’ll soon know whether or not you understood.
2. Many of us have the habit of planning in our head what we’ll say next instead of listening to what the person is saying. Use eye contact as often as possible. It’s a good way to avoid drifting away in thought.
3. Keep an open mind. Be willing to compromise or be flexible with any alternate solutions the person might be offering.
4. Make sure you completely understand what the person is conveying before you respond. Don’t just blurt out the first thing that pops into your mind. Use self-control.
5. Responding is a way of using the facts and your feelings to add to the conversation. It is a communication skill that can help you avoid possible conflicts. It’s better to respond to what someone is saying than to react.
6. Since we understand that people want to be heard, you can show them that you are paying attention, by adding things like: ” I’m interested in what you just said. Can you tell me about what lead to your believing that?”
7. Remember that what someone is saying and what we hear can sometimes be remarkably different! Our personal beliefs, judgements and assumptions can sometimes distort what the other person is really trying to say. Restate what you think you just heard to clarify.
8. Make notes if you are listening on the phone. Not having the eye contact and maybe other distractions may affect how well you listen. Keeping notes will help you to ask any questions you might need to.
Listening is a valuable communication skill. All you have to do is remember a time when you felt that a person wasn’t really listening to you, to understand the importance of listening.
Peter Murphy is a peak performance expert. He recently produced a very popular free report: 10 Simple Steps to Developing Communication Confidence. Apply now because it is available only at: http://www.communicationtalk.com/