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Are you really listening?

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

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 listening skills? 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.

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