Are You Listening?

Jo Condrill

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Good conversation is like a tennis match. You talk-they listen-they talk-you listen. Sometimes you hit the net and a misunderstanding occurs. Chances are, though, with good listening skills, you'll be back on top of the game quickly.

Effective listening requires you to:

- - Reevaluate assumptions and biases, and work to eliminate stereotypical thinking.

- - Pay attention to what is said; don't be distracted.

- - Take notes. Jot down words that will jog your memory for follow up actions.

- - Be attentive to what is NOT said but don't jump to conclusions prematurely. Is the speaker trying not to offend you and side-stepping a question?

- - Check out your hunches by giving the speaker feedback. Ask if your interpretation of their meaning is correct.

- - Find the speakers intent. Poor communication skills frequently lead to misunderstandings and sometimes to hostility.

- - Ask questions and paraphrase for fuller understanding.

- - Use your body language in a positive way. Make eye contact. Nod appropriately and appreciatively, lean forward.

- - Avoid being defensive about your ideas. State them clearly without a confrontational tone.

- - Avoid signs of restlessness, such as tapping a pencil or shuffling papers, while listening.

By listening attentively and providing feedback, you indicate to others that you respect what they have to say, even though you may not agree with them.

Effective communication skills are the mark of an achiever. Always have been. Always will be.

Jo Condrill is coauthor of “101 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills Instantly" and author of “Take Charge of Your Life: Dare to Pursue Your Dreams" She coaches and leads seminars in leadership, team building, personal development, and success strategies. Jo has held leadership positions at the Pentagon and is a graduate of the U. S. Army War College. She was awarded the Army's highest civilian award, the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service and has served on the Toastmasters International Board of Directors.


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