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Monday, June 23, 2008

Time to Be a Good Listener #1

Listening is an essential part of communication, and it is different from hearing. Being a good and patient listener helps you not only solve many problems at work or home, but also to see the world through the eyes of others, thereby opening your understanding and enhancing your capacity for empathy. Besides which, you learn a lot from listening. As deceptively simple as listening to and acknowledging other people may seem, doing it well, particularly when disagreements arise, takes sincere effort and lots of practice.

Please following this steps

1. Place yourself in the other person's shoes. It is often too easy to wonder about how what the other person is telling you is impacting you. As you worry about this, you reflect any tension, annoyance, or irritation back in your body gestures and facial expressions. Active listening is not about inward thinking. Instead, you must draw away from the temptation to do this by looking at the issues from the other person's perspective and actively trying to see his or her point of view. It is not a good idea to consider yourself to be smarter than the speaker and assume that if you would have been in his or her shoes, you would have seen your way through the problem much faster.

2. Remove all distractions. Give the speaker 100% of your attention. Turn off cell phones, do not let your eyes wander about looking for a break, and politely brush aside any interruptions such as waiters or people who suddenly spot you and want to say "hello." It may be easiest to arrange to talk somewhere that such distractions will not occur.

3. Practice the empathetic sounding back technique. At appropriate intervals during the conversation, it is helpful to "summarize and restate" and/or "repeat and encourage" the main points:
* Repeat and encourage: Repeat some of the things said by the speaker. At the same time, encourage the speaker with positive feedback. For example, you might say: "You didn't enjoy having to take the blame. I can see why." Go easy with this technique, however, because if you overwork it, it may come across as being patronizing.
* Summarize and restate: It is also very useful to summarize what the speaker is saying and restate it in your own words. This is a form of reassuring the speaker that you have truly been listening to what he or she is saying. It also provides the speaker with an opportunity to correct any mistaken assumptions or misconceptions that have may have arisen during the course of the conversation. This is an especially good technique to try when you find yourself getting frustrated or restless in your listening.

4. Do not interrupt with what you feel or think about the topic being discussed. Wait for another person to ask your opinion before interrupting the flow of discussion. Active listening requires the listener to shelve his or her own opinions temporarily, and await appropriate breaks in the conversation for summarizing. Abstain from giving direct advice. Instead, let him or her talk the situation out and find his or her own way. Besides, if he or she takes your advice and something goes wrong, he or she will be likely to blame you (whether he or she tells you or not).

5. Ask meaningful and empowering questions. Do not seek to probe or make the other person defensive. Rather, aim to use questions as a means by which the speaker can begin to reach his or her own conclusions about the concerns or issues being raised. Once you have shown empathetic listening, it is time to move into empowering listening by re-framing the questions that you ask the the speaker. For example: "You didn't enjoy having to take the blame. But I cannot understand why you feel blamed rather than merely being asked not to do something that way." Wording the question in this manner presents the speaker with a need to respond directly to your lack of grasping something. In the process of doing so, the speaker should begin to move from a more emotional response to a more constructive response.

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