Listen Up For More Effective Communication Skills

young-businessman-listening“Conversation: a vocal competition in which the one who is catching his breath is called the listener.”
– Anonymous

In today’s fast-paced high tech world, we think that we are communicating more efficiently and effectively with other people. But are we really? Good communication means good listening-something we rarely do. Most people would rather chatter on than listen so they talk over other people, they interrupt, and they finish sentences for others. They fail to listen.

How often have you heard that there is a good reason why God gave us two ears and one mouth? No doubt that was intended to send a message.

Listening has become an under-appreciated facet of communication. We spend more time either talking or thinking about what we are going to say next rather than paying attention to what other people are saying.

Listening is more impressive than talking. Think about it-have you ever heard anyone complain because you listened too much or you made them feel too good by hanging on to their every word? Probably not.

So what can you do to become a good listener and why is it important?

Let’s start with the last question first. Why should you be a good listener?
* A good listener learns from other people.
* A good listener makes others feel valued and important.
* A good listener attracts people.
* A good listener fosters relationships.
* A good listener builds a successful career
* A good listener improves understanding and assures accuracy.

What can you do to become a good listener?
* Focus on the speaker and maintain eye contact. No staring, please.
* Be present with the speaker by paying attention and not looking around the room.
* Listen without being judgmental. Even if you don’t agree, stay focused.
* Don’t be a sentence-grabber. Pauses are not your opportunity to interrupt and finish the speaker’s sentence.
* Don’t jump in with your sage advice unless the speaker has asked for it.
* Ask for clarification when you don’t understand. People appreciate your effort.
* Encourage the speaker by using reinforcing statements or by paraphrasing what was said.
* Nod occasionally or offer an “uh-huh” or “I see” from time to time.

One of the best gifts you can give yourself and others is the gift of listening. This gift will come back to you in better relationships, increased business and a more profitable bottom line.

Try to keep in mind the words of Zig Ziglar, “The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.” You can’t go wrong when you listen to understand.

© 2015, Lydia Ramsey. All rights reserved. Reprints welcomed so long as article and by-line are kept intact and all links made live.

Lydia Ramsey is America’s leading authority on business etiquette. She is a professional speaker and author of Manners That Sell. Based in Savannah, Georgia, she travels the globe, offering keynotes and seminars on business etiquette, medical manners and customer service to individuals and organizations. For more information on her products and services, contact her directly at 912-598-9812 or via her website at http://www.lydiaramsey.com.

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