Listening skills

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”

— Ralph G. Nichols, father of the study of listening

Listening is one of the most important skills you can have. How well you listen has a major impact on your job effectiveness and on the quality of your relationships with others.

Given all the listening we do, you would think we would be good at it! In fact most of us are not, and research suggests that we remember only 25 to 50 percent of what we hear.

Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness. By understanding your personal style of communicating, you will go a long way toward creating positive and lasting impressions with others.

Listening skills are essential to leadership that’s responsive, attentive, and empathetic, and they are skills we can all benefit from improving. By becoming a better listener, you will improve your productivity as well as your ability to influence, persuade, and negotiate. Effective listening skills are necessary for workplace and personal success!

Dianne Schilling, writing for Forbes, listed the following 10 ways to hone your listening skills:

  1. Face the speaker and maintain eye contact.
  2. Be attentive but relaxed.
  3. Keep an open mind.
  4. Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying.
  5. Don’t interrupt and don’t impose your “solutions.”
  6. Wait for the speaker to pause before asking clarifying questions.
  7. Ask questions only to ensure understanding.
  8. Try to feel what the speaker is feeling.
  9. Give the speaker regular feedback.
  10. Pay attention to what isn’t said — to the nonverbal cues.

Source: “10 Steps to Effective Listening,” Forbes, Nov. 9, 2012.

For additional information, check out sound expert Julian Treasure’s TED Talk, “5 Ways to Listen Better,” filmed July 2011 at TEDGlobal 2011.

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