Good listeners are rare. In fact, I know few people I could award this title. I myself am lacking here. We talk. But listening is another matter. We interrupt and interject. We walk away or hang up when someone says something we don’t want to hear.
Why do we do this when we don’t want others doing these things to us? We aren’t listening if we are talking. And when we talk over someone, we are saying that what we have to say is more important than what they are telling us. So many of our arguments could be avoided if we heard what actually is being said and we showed one another the respect to fully listen.
Effective communicators are engaged in a respectful exchange of thoughts. We listen in ways that we want to be heard. We then are able to learn from others and solve problems together.
Here are a few basic guidelines to better communications:
Don’t interrupt the speaker.
Rather than thinking of what we want to say next, concentrate on what the speaker is saying.
Don’t criticize or judge, especially before hearing the speaker’s whole story.
Maintain eye contact with the speaker.
Offer non-verbal cues that we are engaged, such as a periodical nod.
After the speaker has stopped speaking, paraphrase so we clearly understand what was said.
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