What would a conversation be without a speaker and a listener? Not a conversation at all. You need both. Yet we tend to focus on how well we perform as speakers, not as listeners—“What should I say? How should I say it? When should I say it?”
How much energy do you put into your? Polish up your listening skills with these tips:
• Don’t interrupt or talk over the other person.
• Don’t cut it short or rush to the “fix it” stage of a conversation. Quickness can be good for getting things resolved, but it halts trust-building.
Interesting fact: Research shows that men may be more likely to cut off the “venting” part of a conversation and jump to the “fix it” stage.
• Confirm what you heard, so the other person knows you understood.
“Research shows there’s a distinction between listening for and listening to,” says Laura Janusik, associate professor of communication at Rockhurst University. “Often we listen for what we think we’re going to hear. We put a filter on and don’t hear the whole message.”
Confirming what you heard allows the speaker to correct any misunderstanding.
• Use eye contact, head nods and verbal cues (uh-huh) while the other person talks. Women tend to give more “behavioral” cues than men, research shows.
— Adapted from “Listening skills can smooth path to career success,” Diane Stafford, Kansas City Star.