How to Become a Better Listener

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Just like speaking, listening is one of the most important interpersonal skills to master. Effective listening skills have major impacts on your job and family and can improve the quality of your relationships with other individuals. You have to hear what an individual is telling you, understand what you have heard and are able to make a judgment on the information you just processed. These following tips will help improve your listening skills. Listening is one of the most important skills you can have.

Look directly at the individual or group of people speaking to you. Maintain eye contact. Do not look around the room or at other people. This gives the individual the impression that you are not listening.

Keep your mind focused on the individual doing the talking. Do not think about the staff meeting you have to conduct later in the day.  If you feel that your mind is wandering, adjust your body position and concentrate on the speaker.

Do not interrupt the speaker. If you are unclear about something or have a question, wait until the individual is done speaking. Do not allow distractions to prevent you from listening. If the individual is speaking to you in a noisy environment, suggest that the conversation be moved to a quieter location for privacy and communication.

Pay attention to the speaker. Do not hear what is being said, watch for nonverbal clues. In addition to listening to the tone of voice, watch body language, such as hand gestures, is understand how the individual is feeling. For example, an individual may be talking calmly. However, his body language may be suggesting that he is angry.

Put yourself into the shoes of the speaker. This allows you to more understand his position. Show that you understand by nodding and leaning towards the speaker.

If you know beforehand that the individual wants to talk to you, find out what the subject is about. That way you can anticipate what may be said and may be able to ask question and make comments.

Listen for key points that speaker is stressing. For example, he may be making a suggestion how to improve a situation at work. Jot these down for further consideration.

When the individual is finished speaking, repeat what you have just heard in your own words. This shows the individual that you were listening and if you correctly understood what was being said.

It may be difficult at first. However, by practicing, you will become an effective listener. By using these tips, the individual will walk away from the conversation knowing that you not only heard what he had to say but understood the major points of the conversation.

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