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Listening skills are rated as the number one communication skill needed at all levels of business, from front-line to chief executive.
If you want to increase your performance and your company's bottom line, this is one skill you do not want to miss.
1. Give Your Full Attention To the Speaker
As Stephen Covey says, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." You must listen with the intent to understand rather than with the intent to respond. That means you must not be talking.
2. Affirm Your Purpose: Empathy
Not sympathy. Empathy means you understand the point of view, the perspective of the speaker, not that you agree. Tell them up front, "I am not agreeing or disagreeing, I really want to understand." This develops trust and shows that you are not trying to manipulate.
3. Listen With Your Eyes, And Your Ears
Look with your eyes at the body language of the speaker to read their emotional state. Every study shows that body language accounts for more than half of the message in spoken communication. The words and the vocal variety will tell you the content of their message. Only your eyes can tell you what they are feeling, and that is the part that really counts.
4. Rephrase Content - Reflect Emotion
We all know how to paraphrase, to say back to the speaker what the speaker said, using your own words. It starts like this: "In other words . . . “ Then add to that message by telling the speaker what emotion you saw in their body language. It goes like this: "In other words what I hear you saying is . . . and what it seems you are feeling is . . . Is that about right?" And you keep doing it until the speaker replies “ . . . you really do understand.”
5. Use Role Models
Few of us have had any classroom training in listening skills. All of us have had significant experience with folks who are good listeners. So the question is: what are the behaviors they perform in the act of effective listening?
Here's a short-list of behaviors their behaviors that you can try:
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