Communication with your clients and peers is a two-way street. So you must be a good listener–as well as a good speaker–if you want to stimulate a two-way flow of ideas. Here’s a list of some common listening faults I’ve seen practiced and how you can avoid them.
* Remembering the facts. Listening isn’t remembering; it’s understanding. Focus on the idea the speaker is relaying, not the series of facts.
* Mental blocks. Many of us have words or phrases that upset us emotionally and impair our listening. We may associate some things we hear with unpleasant experiences in our past or with something we simply don’t like. Watch your reaction to such words.
* Daydreaming. Do you let yourself get bored? Let your thoughts wander to more fascinating subjects? Even though a particular subject may seem boring, you may find a few good ideas if you listen closely.
* Distractions. Don’t let yourself be thrown off track during a conversation because of sounds, sights, or sensations in the vicinity. Concentrate on what the speaker is saying.
* Note-taking. Don’t become so involved in taking notes that you only half listen. Learn to take abbreviated notes.
* Supercritical listening. Sometimes we hear something at the beginning of a conversation that we disagree with, and we spend the rest of the time the person is speaking preparing an argument instead of listening. Always hear the person out, then take a few moments to plan your questions or rebuttal.
* Assuming you understand. When you’re done speaking with someone, you may think you have a thorough understanding of the message that was being presented. But to be on the safe side, always repeat what was said to be sure that you understand what was being communicated.
Master these rules of good listening and you’ll increase your knowledge while becoming more persuasive and efficient. And you’ll be able to express yourself more effectively than before.
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