Thursday, June 30, 2011

PRACTICAL STEPS FOR MORE EFFECTIVE LISTENING



1.        Talk less. One of my students used to say that when she facilitated classes she always told her students that God gave you one mouth and two ears that should tell you something.

2.        Get rid of distractions. If it is important for you to listen, do everything you can to eliminate internal and external noise and distractions that interfere with careful listening.

3.        Don't judge prematurely. All of us are guilty of forming snap judgments and evaluating others before hearing them out especially when the speaker's ideas conflict with our own.

4.        Look for key ideas. We think much faster than people speak. To help focus attention (rather than drift off in boredom) extract the central idea.

5.        Ask sincere questions. Devil's advocate questions are really statements or criticisms in disguise. Sincere questions are requests for new information that clarifies a speaker's thoughts or feelings.

6.        Paraphrase. Reword the speaker's thoughts in your own words to make sure your interpretation as a listener is accurate.

7.        Suspend your own agenda. In other words, while you are listening, concentrate on what the speaker is saying not what you think.

8.        Empathic listening. Empathic listening is knowing that given the same set of circumstances you might have done the same thing. It is the ability to experience the world from the other's point of view. It doesn't necessarily mean that you agree, but that you understand.

9.        Open your heart with love. Often we listen to score points and make ourselves right and the other person wrong. When we open our hearts to each other, we do so with the belief that we are all the same. We have the same feelings, fears, and hurts.

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