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Communication Skills Articles

Effective Listening Requires
Specific Strategies

Al Borowski, MEd, CSP, PP

Listening does not take place in the ears. Hearing takes place in
the ears. Listening takes place between the ears.

WE LISTEN WITH OUR HEADS

Animals hear; people listen.

Animals hear sounds and react. People hear words and they can
evaluate the meaning, importance, or urgency of what they hear.
Listening is an intellectual adventure.

We need to evaluate more than just the words. We need to become
aware of the communicating styles, learning preferences and
personalities of the people speaking. That information guides us
in how we receive, accept and react to what we hear.

We need to think through how the messages affect our business and
personal lives and we need to create plans for what to do with the information.

If we do not understand the words and their meanings, we need to ask questions, make comments, or seek clarification so we can make correct decisions.

WE LISTEN WITH OUR EYES

Listening doesn't just involve hearing the words. We need to watch the person's body language and facial expressions to ensure the nonverbal messages match the oral ones. If we become distracted, we can miss an important clue that indicates what we are hearing does not truly relate to reality. This is not to say the speaker is lying. What the words say and how the person delivers them might indicate uncertainty, confusion or doubt on the speaker's part.

For example, if you ask an employee, "Do you understand?" The
response might be "Yes." However, the word "yes" might be
accompanied by eye movement, a facial gesture or a shrug of the
shoulders that might signal you are hearing what you want to hear.

On the other hand, if you do not maintain eye contact while you
are listening, you can send many mixed signals to the speaker.
This may indicate you are not interested in what the speaker is
saying, you are distracted by your personal agenda, your don't
agree with what the other person is saying, or that you flat out
don't like the person. It could also signal that you feel
intimidated or embarrassed by the person or the message.

WE LISTEN WITH OUR VOICES

listening does not involve total silence on the part of the
listener. As listeners, we need to prove to the speaker that we
are listening and understanding. We don't have to agree but we do
have to understand the other person's position. We cannot
understand it if we don't truly listen.

We listen with our voices by giving appropriate responses as the
person speaks. This can be as simple as the sincere guttural
sound, "Uh huh."

It could be a response like," I see," "I hear you," or I'm with
you."

Or, you can display your understanding by repeating or
paraphrasing the speaker's word.

WE LISTEN WITH OUR HEARTS

Listening is an attitude. To be a truly effective listener, "Ya gotta wanna." That's a phrase I heard many years ago when I first
started my sales career. To really listen to someone, you must
think at least as much about the speaker as you do yourself. You
have to adopt a mindset that whatever the speaker says may contain
some value for you. Is this always true? No. But you will never be
able to know this unless you truly listen carefully to what the
person has to say. If you miss something, it's your fault, not the
speaker's.

We all like to think we have value. When you show people you care
about them, you gain their respect and their attention. Listening
effectively creates a Win-Win situation that carries value way
beyond a casual or even a highly structured listening encounter.

Employers who stress, model and train employees on listening
skills own a competitive advantage. Employees who take
responsibility for effective listening become valuable assets to a
company and, generally, are the ones promoted faster and more
often.

Listen between your ears. If you don't, you lose.

Yes, please spread the word. To reprint this article in your Ezine, Newsletter or magazine click here for Reprint Guidelines.

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Name

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Communications Skills

Al Borowski, MEd, CSP, PP
Certified Speaking Professional
Professor of Positivity

Connect all the Dots
PO Box 24505
Pittsburgh, PA 15234
412-561-7628
877-902-3314 Toll Free
412-561-7035 Fax

al@connectallthedots.com
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The Communication Skills involved in sales, telephone skills, customer service, presentation skillswriting business letters, listening skills, effective email  and training the trainer come together when Al Borowski helps you Connect All The Dots. Al's high energy, content-rich, fun-filled presentations help business professionals get the complete picture when they speak, listen or write.

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