Listening - A Life Skill for Success!
When I decided to have my web site built, I discovered 5 web site designers whose portfolios I found professional and creative. On approach, four of them asked me to fill out time consuming forms detailing my needs and objectives but none took the time to call me. However, the fifth designer started his sell by calling, listening to my needs, asking questions and following up with a detailed proposal. He called again for feedback and asked further questions about my needs. It was this coupled with his professional approach why I decided he was the one I wanted to work with.
Whether you are dealing with a client, business associate, parent, spouse or child you cannot expect to win business, be understood or bring out the best in others unless you learn the art of listening correctly. Most people who experience difficulty in their relationships, whether business or personal, sincerely believe that they are listening to the other person but a closer look will tell you that most communication conflicts are fuelled by an inability to fully engage in listening.
Can you remember at time when you were listened to? How great did that feel? Well, good listening has a positive influence and can increase your success with others. There is something deeply gratifying about being heard and can be the key to improving the quality of life for another human being. You will also be armed with a deeper understanding of the people you are in daily contact with and better equipped to meet their needs. Now isn't that something worth pursuing?
So, if you are ready to improve your listening skills, first take on board that listening isn't something you do but who you are. By this I mean, how genuinely interested in others are you? If you are only looking to be heard, have no real desire to take on board another's point of view and only want your own interests taken care of, you will reap resistance from others. So if you want to be heard ensure you take the time to listen as well!
Secondly, check your body position. We might say we are listening with our ears but our body position sends out a non-verbal message as to whether we are fully engaged. Having a correct body position helps us to retain what is being said, so adopt a good attentive posture by:
Ensuring you are facing the person when you are talking to them, don't sit facing away or walk into another room saying you can still hear them!
If seated, sit comfortable and lean forward at times to show that you are interested.
Use hand gestures, smiles, nods and eye contact to let the other person know you are listening.
Thirdly, don't cut in half way through their conversation, attempt to finish what they are saying or jump straight in with your response. Check for clarification first, summarising helps ensure that you have gained all the facts!
Fifth, be assertive! If now is really an impossible time to talk then let the other person know! Book a time when you can both sit down uninterrupted, you will be appreciated for your honesty far more then showing distraction!
Six, use open-ended questions, by this I mean questions that invite the other person to share more, rather than issue a yes or no response. For example:
Open ended: What could you do instead? What do you think would happen if? Is there another way of? Closed: Is this the right way to do this? Are you all right? Do you want to do that?
Seven, don't be quick to give advice unless it is asked for. Learn to be comfortable with just being there, asking good questions and getting to know the heart of another individual!
Being listened to increases self worth because it sends out a message to the other person they are worth the time and are significant.
Now that's a sure way of winning people!
Joanne is a qualifired Life Skills Coach, Counselor and Facilitator in Weight Managment offering group coaching and individual support to women. Though her emphasis is on supporting women in hurtful relationships, her life skills services are for all women and include Career Development and Weight Management. Her on line services at http://www.donnaintera.net also offer free sign up to devotionals and articles to help you gain the tools to over come your problems including workshops and coaching to women who want to develop their full potential.
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