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Two Ears and One Mouth

Mar 2, 2008
Last week after a presentation, we had the standard networking post presentation event. In a bid to ensure that he was communicating with all potential clients, a presenter sidled up and asked the standard what do you do question.

Standing next to a gentleman whose business consisted of plumbed in water systems, on hearing water, the presenter asked and answered his own questions at least four times about what aspects of the water business the owner was in, that had absolutely nothing to do with plumbed in systems. Out of courtesy the business man stood in silence.

The presenter had no clue when to leave so his attention turned to the nearby canapes!

We were given two ears but only one mouth. Is this because the creator knew that listening was twice as hard as talking?

The first skill that you can practice to be a good listener is to act like a good listener. We have spent a lot of our modern lives working at tuning out all of the information that is thrust at us.

It therefore becomes important to change our physical body language from that of a deflector to that of a receiver, much like a satellite dish. Our faces contain most of the receptive equipment in our bodies, so it is only natural that we should tilt our faces towards the channel of information.

A second skill is to use the other bodily receptors besides your ears. You can be a better listener when you look at the other person. Your eyes pick up the non-verbal signals that all people send out when they are speaking. By looking at the speaker, your eyes will also complete the eye contact that speakers are trying to make. A speaker will work harder at sending out the information when they see a receptive audience in attendance. Your eyes help complete the communication circuit that must be established between speaker and listener.

When you have established eye and face contact with your speaker, you must then react to the speaker by sending out non-verbal signals. Your face must move and give the range of emotions that indicate whether you are following what the speaker has to say. By moving your face to the information, you can better concentrate on what the person is saying. Your face must become an active and contoured catcher of information.

It is extremely difficult to receive information when your mouth is moving information out at the same time.

A good listener will stop talking and use receptive language instead. Depending on where you are, the noises change from the I see , to the. un hunh to the oh really words and phrases that follow and encourage your speaker's train of thought. This forces you to react to the ideas presented, rather than the person.

You can then move to asking questions, instead of giving your opinion on the information being presented. It is a true listening skill to use your mouth as a moving receptor of information rather than a broadcaster.

A final skill is to move your mind to concentrate on what the speaker is saying. You cannot fully hear their point of view or process information when you argue mentally or judge what they are saying before they have completed. An open mind is a mind that is receiving and listening to information.

If you really want to listen, you will act like a good listener. Good listeners are good catchers because they give their speakers a target and then move that target to capture the information that is being sent. When good listeners are not understanding their speakers, they will send signals to the speaker about what they expect next, or how the speaker can change the speed of information delivery to suit the listener. Above all, a good listener involves all of their face to be an active moving listener.


1. If you are really listening intently, you should feel tired after your speaker has finished. Effective listening is an active rather than a passive activity.
2. When you find yourself drifting away during a listening session, change your body position and concentrate on using one of the above skills. Once one of the skills is being used, the other active skills will come into place as well.
3. Your body position defines whether you will have the chance of being a good listener or a good deflector. Good listeners are like poor boxers: they lead with their faces.
4. Meaning cannot just be transmitted as a tangible substance by the speaker. It must also be stimulated or aroused in the receiver. The receiver must therefore be an active participant for the cycle of communication to be complete.
About the Author
Marcia Granger creates life and passion at work so that her clients are buzzing so much that they only have only one question - "how much joy can I stand?" Want joy in your life? Visit us at www.megamorphose.com
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