Life and Spiritual Coaching

October 21, 2008

8 tips to great listening skills

Filed under: Communications,Life Balance — by Donna Ritter @ 4:12 pm


To become a good listener you want to hear the other person. Think about your own experiences. Didn’t you feel much better when you were truly listened to? Here are eight ways to help you become a better listener:

1.   Look at the speaker and keep your eyes on them:

The whole listening process begins with giving the person your undivided attention. Do not catch up on other work, read your email, take calls or shuffle papers. How would you feel if it were you in this case? If you don’t have time at that instant, make a new appointment as soon as possible.

2.   Don’t interrupt:

Most people react badly to this and at the very least are hurt by it. People who interrupt to so for several reasons:

·         They care about what the person is saying

·         They want to impress others (or themselves) with how smart they are

·         They are too excited by the conversation to let the other person finish!

If you have this habit (one of my faults I am working on) examine your motives and determine to make a change. Would you like to be around someone like this? Let the other person express themselves and also to feel comfortable if there happen to be silences in the conversation. This gives each of you time to take notes (if applicable).

3.   Concentrate on Understanding:

Have you ever noticed how quickly people forget what has just been said? Communications also includes noticing tone, body language etc. – not just the words being said.

4.   Determine the need at the moment:

A lot of people find themselves in conflict because they occasionally communicate at cross-purposes. They neglect to determine the need of the other person at the moment of interaction. Men usually want to fix any problems they discuss. Women are more likely to tell about a problem simply to share it; they neither request nor desire a solution. Anytime you can determine the current need of the people you’re communicating with, you can put whatever they say into appropriate context. And you will better understand them.

5.   Check your emotions:

Most people carry around a lot of emotional baggage that causes them to react to different people or situations. Anytime a person has an axe to grind, the words of others are drowned by the sound of the grindstone. Anytime you become highly emotional when listening to another person, check your emotions – especially if your reaction seems stronger than the situation warrants. You don’t want to make an unsuspecting person the recipient of your venting. Always allow others to finish explaining their points of view before offering your own.

6.   Suspend your judgment:

Have you ever begun listening to another person tell a story and just started to respond before he/she was finished? Just about everyone has. The truth is that you can’t jump to conclusions and be a good listener at the same time. As you talk to others, wait to hear the whole story before responding. If not, you might miss the best part!

Experts agree that listening is most effective when you’re active. If you train yourself to comment meaningfully, the speaker will know what you are saying and may offer further information.

7.   Ask questions for clarity:

Looking at the person, focusing on what they are saying for understanding, suspending judgment and summing up what the person says is a key technique that most interviewers use. Another skill that helps to gather more information and increase your understanding is to ask good questions.

8.   Always make listening your priority:

The last thing to remember when developing good listening skills is to make “listening” a priority, not matter how busy you become or how far you rise in your organization. These skills serve you well with family and friends as well.



August 12, 2008

Listening and Understand other People

Filed under: Communications — by Donna Ritter @ 1:34 pm
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Do you remember that saying “Before I can walk in another’s shoes, I must first remove my own?” Communication is the deepest need of the human heart and soul. Everyone wants to be respected and valued for who they are. If you want someone to open up to you, they need to feel safe and understood.  

The number one thing you need to do is to listen. Most people have poor listening skills though. When people are talking we seldom listen because we are busy thinking about how we will respond. These are the most common poor listening styles:

·         Spacing out: the typical adult human’s attention span is about 20 minutes, but if they aren’t hooked, spacing out can be a problem. You need to actively listen to people to keep your mind on what they are saying.

·         Pretend listening: Some people make comments like “yeah” or “sounds great” when all along they still aren’t listening.

·         Selective listening: This is when you pay attention only to the part that interests you. This won’t win you any lasting relationships!

·         Self-centered listening: This happens when we see everything from our own point of view instead of trying to understand how the person feels.

·         Judging: Sometimes, as we listen to others, we make judgments about them and what they are saying. If you are busy judging, you are not really listening are you?

·         Advising: This is when we give advice drawn from our own experience – they typical “When I was your age…” speech you get from your elders.

Genuine listening:

First listen with your eyes, heart and ears. Listening with your ears alone isn’t good enough, because you typically only pick up 7% of what is being said. The rest comes from body language (53%) and the tone or feeling reflected in our voice (40%).

To hear what people are really saying, you need to listen to what they are not saying. No matter how hard people appear on the surface, everyone is tender inside and has a desperate need to be understood.

Second, stand in their shoes. To become a genuine listener, you need to put yourself in the other persons place.

Third, practice mirroring. This is very effective. Repeat back in your own words what you here the other person saying. Mirroring phrases are “As I get it, you felt that…” or “So, what you’re saying is…”

After you have mastered actively listening to a person, you are half the way to a great communicator. Next, seek to be understood. Giving feedback requires that you first understand the person and then you can get your message across to them in a way they will understand.

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