Tag Archives: active listening

Improve Your Listening Skills by W.A.I.T.ing

It is axiomatic that you can’t listen while you are talking. Unfortunately, most of us spend more time talking that we do listening. Why do we talk so much?

  1. To communicate with purpose
  2. Because everyone else is talking
  3. We have an urge to talk
  4. We want attention
  5. Sometimes, we just don’t know.

Are one of those who needs to dominate a conversation? Do you jump in and interrupt or block other’s attempts to talk? If these are habits you need to break, you have to W.A.I.T.

Ask yourself, “Why AI Talking?”

If there’s no good answer. Stop!

To be a better listener, eliminate these bad habits:

  1. Interrupting the speaker.
  2. Not looking at the speaker.
  3. Rushing the speaker and making him feel that he’s wasting the listener’s time.
  4. Showing interest in something other than the conversation.
  5. Getting ahead of the speaker and finishing her thoughts.
  6. Not responding to the speaker’s requests.
  7. Saying, “Yes, but . . .,” as if the listener has made up his mind.
  8. Topping the speaker’s story with “That reminds me. . .” or “That’s nothing, let me tell you about. . .”
  9. Forgetting what was talked about previously.
  10. Asking too many questions about details.

Be Attentive: Eliminate distractions and focus on the speaker. This includes distractions of ego, your agenda and judgements.

Listen beyond the words. Tone of voice, pace and pitch, body language are all clues to the speaker’s state. Pay attention to the none verbal cues.

Put your ego aside. Let go of your need to control a conversation. Ask discovery questions to fully understand the speaker; let them take you where they wants to go. Be engaged, but not in control. Let the speaker finish then wait before responding.

Be open to new ideas. During the course of a conversation where new ideas are being discussed, it is easy to listen to argue. Don’t be threatened. Listen to learn.

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3 V’s of Confident Communication

Communication is more than talking. It’s a two-way process of sending and receiving messages: verbally and nonverbally. Communication is vital to personal success. Now matter how much you know about communicating,

Communication
Communication (Photo credit: P Shanks)

there always seems more to be learned.

At its most basic, your message has three main components: visual, vocal and verbal. To improve your communication style, choose one skill to practise daily and after a while it will become natural.

Visual

1. Eye contact – increasing eye contact makes listeners feel you are interested in them and genuine about the subject you are comminicating.

Practice

    : In your next 5 conversations, notice where you look and how long (should be 5-15 seconds) or ask someone to evaluate or video tape you.

2. Facial expressions, gestures and body movements – make up over half of the message you are communicating.

Practise

    : Notice in your next conversation how much impact different body movements have on the person you are communcating with. Example: Try standing with your arms crossed, leaning back against a wall with a frown on your face. Does this get any different response than standing with your arms bent and your body leaning slightly forward smiling or nodding as the person is talking?

3. Active Listening – show genuine interest in the person talking and listen in the way you would expect them to listen to you. Watch for signs that indicate a change in mood or their loss of interest.

Practise

    : Paraphrase what someone has said to you to be sure you understand the meaning. Ask questions to get further details.

Vocal

1. Tone of voice – make it match your message. If you are talking about a sport you are passionate about, a monotone voice would not be appropriate. Add enthusiasm and emphasis to parts of your conversation.

Practise

    : record your voice and evaluate where more emphasis or feeling may be added.

Verbal

1. Word choices – words only carry 7% of the message, but choose them carefully as sometimes they have different meanings. Example: Betty never thought much of it when she told her husband, “I’m at Sandy’s, we’re having hot dogs for dinner,” until her husband showed up at Sandy’s with hot dogs in hand. She realized he had interpreted what she said differently than what she intended. Use words that are specific to the points you are trying to make.

Practise

    : make list of words used that could be interpretted more than 1 way.

2. Use “I” messages – take ownership and send clear messages about how you feel about something. “I” messages are a description of what you say, do and hear. Avoid accusatory remarks like “you never listen” or “you’re so messy”. Instead, express how the situation makes you feel.

Practise

      : Consciously make an effort to start sentences with “I”.
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