Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Listen Up: Become a Skilled Listener

Most people are aware that good communication skills are consistently noted as highly desirable and important in both work and life; however, many may overlook that one of the foundations of good communication is being a skilled listener.

Good listening skills in the workplace can lead to increased productivity and can help you build good rapport with co-workers, managers, vendors, and clients. By focusing closely on what is being said, clarifying any uncertainty, and summarizing what you heard, you will be more successful in performing a task, meeting expectations and deadlines, and gaining overall business acumen.

The below are a few more tips that can assist you in sharpening your listening skills:

Avoid a wandering mind – First and foremost stay focused on your speaker. Don’t get lost in the conversation by preparing a counter response to an earlier point. Keep pace with your speaker. This is definitely not the time to make your things to do list.

Eliminate distractions – If possible find a quiet spot to meet so that you won’t be distracted by people walking by or talking on the phone.

Respond with non-verbal communication and keep eye contact – When you engage in what your speaker is saying, you will be more apt to respond with non-verbal interest, like nodding your head and keeping good eye contact.

Genuinely listen and display empathy, if appropriate – It is one thing to hear what your speaker is saying, but genuinely listening with care and empathizing with your speaker will be noticed and appreciated.

Take notes – In many instances taking notes is fitting, and will help you recall what your speaker shared in much greater detail. As a courtesy, you should ask your speaker if they are fine with your taking notes.

Keep working on it – Developing and maintaining good listening skills takes work and practice. So even what you might consider as a casual conversation should be viewed as an opportunity to exercise good listening. Plus, you never know when something important might be shared in an everyday exchange. And remember, showing respect to others never goes out of style.

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