Do You Know How Much The Art Of Listening Can Help You?

Listening Attentively

 

Have you ever been to a dinner party where you sensed the talk wasn’t really a conversation as much as a series of monologues? First, somebody tells about their vacation, and maybe a dutiful but shallow question or two is asked. Then somebody else brags about his kid getting into medical school, which leads another guest to talk about her own college days. On and on it goes, while eyes wander and heads occasionally nod between bites of quiche and sips of French Colombard.

You get the impression no one is really listening. Rather, they’re just rehearsing what they might say. Maybe they’re thinking about how to sound good, how strongly to make their points, or how to outshine the others. As a result, by evening’s end, everyone will have talked-but people really won’t have communicated much or gotten to know each other very well.

Unfortunately, many of our everyday conversations are like that, too. While we hear, we only pretend to listen. Listening doesn’t just mean shutting up while someone else speaks-though that’s a start. (“A good listener is a good talker with a sore throat,” one English wit said.)

But listening-real listening-takes more work than that. It’s more than the physical process of hearing. It also takes intellectual and emotional effort. To get a full appreciation of the other person and what’s being said, you need to ask questions, give feedback, remain objective, figure out what’s really being said and what’s not being said, and observe and interpret body language.

As Matthew McKay and Martha Davis say in their book, How to Communicate, “Listening is a commitment and a compliment. It’s a commitment to understanding how other people feel, how they see their world” and it’s “a compliment because it says to the other person: ‘I care about what’s happening to you, your life and your experience are important.'”

When you want to win someone’s attention and gain his or her confidence, listening is just as important as speaking. Good listening draws people to you; poor listening causes them to drift away.

Here are some ideas on ways to make active listening easier for you:

1. Listen–really listen–to one person for one day. Choose one person you could relate to better. Commit to listening to them-not just hearing them-for one day.

Once you’ve gotten into this habit of nudging yourself to listen better, extend this exercise to successive days, then to other acquaintances as well.

2. Create a receptive listening environment. Turn off the TV. Hold your calls. Put away your spread sheets and silence your computer. When listening, forget about clipping your nails, crocheting, solving crossword puzzles, or snapping your chewing gum. Instead, try to provide a private, quiet, comfortable setting where you sit side by side with others without distractions. If that’s not possible, perhaps suggest a later meeting in a more neutral, quieter environment.

3. Be alert to your body language. What you do with your eyes, face, hands, arms, legs, and posture sends out signals as to whether you are, or aren’t, listening to and understanding what the other person is saying.

When you acknowledge the other person both verbally and nonverbally, you build trust and increase rapport. And you’ll probably learn something, too!

4. Abstain from judging. As someone once advised, “Grow antennae, not horns.” If you prejudge someone as shallow or crazy or ill informed, you automatically cease paying attention to what they say. So a basic rule of listening is to judge only after you’ve heard and evaluated what they say. Don’t jump to conclusions based on how they look, or what you’ve heard about them, or whether they’re nervous.

5. Create and use an active-listening attitude. Learning to be an active listener is like learning to be an active jogger. It takes effort. You start little by little and work upward. It’s as much a state of mind as a physical activity. Besides, as you work longer and get better, it pays ever-increasing benefits.

I would like to hear from you-Have you tried one of these ideas for active listening yourself? Have they worked? Do you have another idea to add to the list? Special gift to those who take a moment to give an answer that will help others!

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About Assessment Business Center
Dr. Tony Alessandra has a street-wise, college-smart perspective on business, having been raised in the housing projects of NYC to eventually realizing success as a graduate professor of marketing, entrepreneur, business author, and hall-of-fame keynote speaker. He earned a BBA from the Univ. of Notre Dame, an MBA from the Univ. of Connecticut and his PhD in marketing from Georgia State University. In addition to being president of Assessment Business Center, a company that offers online 360º assessments, Tony is also a founding partner in The Cyrano Group and Platinum Rule Group--companies which have successfully combined cutting-edge technology and proven psychology to give salespeople the ability to build and maintain positive relationships with hundreds of clients and prospects. Dr. Alessandra is a prolific author with 27 books translated into over 50 foreign language editions, including the newly revised, best selling The NEW Art of Managing People (Free Press/Simon & Schuster, 2008); Charisma (Warner Books, 1998); The Platinum Rule (Warner Books, 1996); Collaborative Selling (John Wiley & Sons, 1993); and Communicating at Work (Fireside/Simon & Schuster, 1993). He is featured in over 50 audio/video programs and films, including Relationship Strategies (American Media); The Dynamics of Effective Listening (Nightingale-Conant); and Non-Manipulative Selling (Walt Disney). He is also the originator of the internationally-recognized behavioral style assessment tool - The Platinum Rule®. Recognized by Meetings & Conventions Magazine as "one of America's most electrifying speakers," Dr. Alessandra was inducted into the Speakers Hall of Fame in 1985. In 2009, he was inducted as one of the “Legends of the Speaking Profession,” in 2010 and 2011 he was selected as one of the Top 5 Marketing Speakers by Speaking.com, and in 2010 Tony was elected into the inaugural class of the Sales Hall of Fame. Tony's polished style, powerful message, and proven ability as a consummate business strategist consistently earn rave reviews and loyal clients. Contact information for Dr. Tony Alessandra: • Dr. Tony’s Products: http://www.alessandra.com/products/index.asp • Keynote Speeches: Holli Catchpole: Phone: 1-760-603-8110 ● Email: Holli@SpeakersOffice.com • Corporate Training: Scott Zimmerman: Phone: 1-330-848-0444 x2 ● Email: Scott@PlatinumRuleGroup.com • Cyrano CRM System: Scott Zimmerman: Phone: 1-330-848-0444 x2 ● Email: Scott@PlatinumRuleGroup.com

3 Responses to Do You Know How Much The Art Of Listening Can Help You?

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