Friday, August 15, 2008

Communication Etiquette: Active Listening Skills

Listening is just as important (many would argue even more important) than speaking - but only if you know how to listen correctly. There's a big difference between hearing someone speak and actually listening to what they say.

If you are a good, active listener, you do these things:

1. Reserve judgment
It is hard to truly listen to what someone is saying if you are too busy passing judgment on the person, their views, their language, their look or anything else. Try your hardest to understand what the person is trying to say before formulating all of your arguments against them.

2. Focus your attention on the speaker
Stop what you are doing when someone is speaking to you. That might mean you have to close your laptop and turn the TV down or off. Make eye contact and focus on what the speaker is saying.

3. Give visual responses
Just because you aren't the one talking, doesn't mean you shouldn't be involved in the conversation. Speak with your body language. Physically positioning yourself facing the speaker is a sign that you are focused on them. Leaning towards the speaker also shows interest. And of course, make eye contact and nod your head when appropriate.

4. Encourage with verbal cues
Show that you are listening and understanding by adding short verbal cues like, "uh-huh," "yes," "right," "I see." The point of active listening is to show the speaker that you understand what they are saying.

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