Are You Listening?

March 19, 2009

Listening is a powerful skill which most of us tend to take for granted. Listening is different from hearing and requires practice.  We “hear” sounds. We “listen” to understand what the speaker is saying, what they are feeling and to pay attention to what is being said beneath the words.

The highest form of attentive listening.

The highest form of attentive listening.

As a professional coach, I strive every day to improve my listening skills so that I am able to truly “tune in” to my clients needs. Every individual who interacts with others can significantly strengthen both professional and personal relationships by improving their listening skills,  Why? Because, “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 Nichols

The month of March is dedicated to celebrating International Listening Awareness. I encourage you to sharpen your listening skills by regularly practicing these helpful techniques …

• Avoid interrupting
• Keep an open mind
• Suspend judgments
• Refrain from making assumptions
• Respect the speaker’s personal space
• Give appropriate eye contact
• Be patient and understanding
• Listen for underlying feelings and subtle messages
• Avoid completing the speaker’s sentences
• Take notes when helpful
• Shut out distractions & focus on what the speaker is saying
• Use interjections to let the speaker know you’re  “tuned in”
• Focus on the speaker’s intentions and not your own

The International Listening Association promotes the study, development, and teaching of listening and the practice of effective listening skills. A wonderful resource for listening tips and techniques is their website, at www.listen.org .

Two ears ... one mouth!

Two ears ... one mouth!

In closing, always keep in mind … “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we talk.”

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