72 / BECOMING MORE EFFECTIVE
Listening effectively
Many people can talk, but few listen well. If you are good at hearing
what others miss, it gives you a distinct advantage. Good listeners are
also better at building rapport with others, so listening effectively
is a good skill to develop and practice.
Being a good listener
Listening is not the same as hearing. You
can hear something but not take it in or
respond to it. The words are just flowing
over you. When you are truly listening,
the person talking to you knows you are
listening and will appreciate it. Listening
requires concentration, which will not
be possible if you are busy thinking about
what you are going to say next. Be in the
present. If you are really listening you
will find your next words come intuitively.
Reading all signs
Listen to what the speaker is saying, not
just what you are hearing. Think about
what the tone and inflection in the voice
tells you about what’s behind the words.
Are they congruent? If not, what is not
being said? Their body language is
important, too, and you will probably pick
this up subconsciously. Does the speaker’s
body language match the words?
Confirming your thoughts
As you listen, make sure that you always
understand what the speaker is saying.
Summarize your understanding and,
if necessary, ask the speaker to repeat
what he or she said, or ask for further
clarification if you are unsure. Never
pretend to understand if you don’t.
Ending well
Finally, make sure that you end the
encounter on the right note. If you need
to take further action as a result of your
conversation, summarize what you have
heard and then discuss the action you
are going to take. Make a note of what
you have agreed should happen next,
ideally in your colleague’s presence.
This will emphasize the importance of
the matters that have been discussed
and decided. Always make a note of
important points even if this has to be
after the meeting.
GIVE THE RIGHT SIGNS
Give signs of encouragement
nods, smiles, and winces in the
right places—to the person you are
listening to. If the story is distressing
or embarrassing, it is better to vary
your eye contact.
Tip
LISTENING EFFECTIVELY / 73
Giving advice
There will be times when you get the
impression that a conversation is
actually a request for advice. Be wary
of this. It’s better to be asked for advice
than to offer it unsolicited. If you really
feel you have something important to
contribute, ask the person whether your
advice is welcome, but be prepared to
be told “no.” Alternatively, give advice
by telling a personal story of how
you dealt with something similar.
Do this carefully, however—no
two circumstances are identical.
Empathizing with care
There are some times when
there is nothing you can do.
The person may be telling
you something simply to tell
someone. In this case, your
role is to listen carefully and
empathize, letting him or her
know you are always available
if you are needed. Above all,
when someone tells you
something in confidence,
keep that confidence.
CHECKLIST...
YES NO
Listening well
Think about the last real conversation you had:
1 Was I really listening to what was being said? ................................
2 Were my responses appropriate while the speaker
was talking? ......................................................................................
3 Did my actions encourage or interrupt the flow? ...........................
4 Were my questions well crafted and appropriate? .........................
5 Did I close the discussion appropriately?........................................
6 Was I helpful? ....................................................................................
When you are truly listening,
the person talking to you will
realize and appreciate it

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