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11 Unusual Tips for Great Listening Skills

Aug 18, 2007
Would you like to improve your listening skills when you communicate? The life blood of a relationship and the foundation of all human interaction is communication. One must have listening skills to be able to communicate. For communication to be effective, you must have understanding, honesty, kindness, and respect. Active listening is a vital part of good communication. Most communication experts recommend the following traits to be a good listener.

1. Practice to Paraphrase. It is a good way to show that you have really listened. When there is a natural pause in the conversation, restate briefly what you heard by rephrasing in your own words. Then ask if this is correct.

2. Whenever it is needed, always clarify. Ask questions and clarification on anything said that you do not quite understand. Make sure you understand clearly before you react to what has been said.

3. Give effective feedback but be careful in doing so. Feedback consists of telling what your reaction is to what has been said. You should clearly state that your feedback is based on your understanding of what was heard. The feedback must be immediate, honest, and must not be attacking but supportive.

4. Always be aware of body language. Communication can be visual. You're receiving not only words but, most importantly, you're receiving body language and tone. Most often body language prevails over words. Learn to listen with empathy, openness and awareness. Nod your head occasionally as you listen to your partner and maintain eye contact to show interest in what they are saying. If you sense a discrepancy between what is being said and what you see, ask for clarification.

5. Concentrate. Focus on the speaker, avoid negative Distraction by choosing positive approach that speaks on the issue and against the person. Anyone can tell whether they have your interest and attention by the way you reply. Maintain eye contact.

6. Acknowledge through body language by occasionally nodding or saying uh-huh. Acknowledgment through body language does not interrupt but encourages more insights to flow. Oftentimes it is one way of conveying that you are attentive and trying to understand every word the other one is trying to say, without our interrupting the flow of his/her mind.

7. Be quick to respond. Too long a period of silence after the other one has spoken might give a wrong message that you have not been listening. Ask, clarify if you have not clearly understood. This would show sincerity.

8. Empathize, share in their emotions and feelings. A good listener feels what the other person is talking about and it shows. Facial expressions and body language can not lie and it often gives us away. Our mouth speaks what is in our hearts.

9. Listen patiently. We often think faster than they speak. Sometimes it is due to limited vocabulary and experience in talking, especially with children. Listen as though you have plenty of time.

10. Avoid cutting off before they have finished speaking. It is easy to form an opinion or reject another point of view before others have finished what they have to say. It may be difficult to listen respectfully and not correct misconceptions, but respect their right to have and express their opinions.

11. Master the art of reading non-verbal communication. It is a must for listening skills. Many messages are communicated nonverbally by the tone of voice, facial expressions, energy level, posture, or changes in behavior patterns. You can often tell more from the way one says something than from what is said.

Listening is an art, it is the bridge to understanding. When we are listened to, it molds us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life when we have good listening skills.
About the Author
Peter Murphy is a peak performance expert. He recently produced a very popular free report: 10 Simple Steps to Developing Communication Confidence. Apply now because it is available only at: conversation starters
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