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What are you hearing?

October 18, 2010

One of the most important aspects to two-way communication is knowing how and when to listen. In the modern world, we are surrounded by a countless number of distractions, from texting to smart phones to social websites. How do you put down your email and pick up your attention level?

yelling personYou may be great at multi-tasking. You may even have to do it for your job on a daily basis. But when it comes to listening, multi-tasking should not be on your list of to-do’s. Whether it is your boss or your co-worker, take the following steps to ensure they know you are truly hearing what they are saying.

1.      Put down your phone. With the technology surrounding people today, it can be tempting to always be focused on your phone, checking your email or updating your calendar. The first step to show someone they have your attention is to actually give them your attention!

2.      Be patient. Let the person finish speaking completely before you put in your two cents. If you interrupt them before they have finished their train of thought, it sends the message that you were only listening to find a break in the conversation so you could speak! Wait until it’s your turn.

3.      Make eye contact. Looking around the room or at the ceiling will make the person feel as though the walls are more interesting than what they have to say. By making eye contact, you use non-verbal communication to show that you are listening and you will actually hear more of what the person says to you.

4.      Show empathy, not judgment. In order for people to trust you and even want to talk to you, they have to know they will be able to trust your reaction. Responding with an offensive remark will only make it so no one in your office will talk to you or listen to you again! You can show empathy by acknowledging their opinion or viewpoint and then respectfully commenting on what they have said. Your comment should not judge, argue, or make light of the information they have given you. Put your own feelings on hold and think about their position and feelings. After all, if you followed all of the steps above, you just spent time out of your day listening to how they feel!

If you do these four things while someone is talking to you, you will listen to them rather than hear them. Not only will you understand the ideas they are saying, but you will also comprehend how they feel about those ideas. If you’re listening to your boss, you will not only know the details of your assignment but also the expectations behind those details.

Finally, the greatest benefit of listening is the application of the golden rule: listening to others will ensure that they will listen to you when it’s your turn.

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