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What Great Listeners Actually Do

By Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman

Chances are you think you’re a good listener. People’s appraisal of their listening ability is much like their assessment of their driving skills, in that the great bulk of adults think they’re above average.

In our experience, most people think good listening comes down to doing three things:

  • Not talking when others are speaking
  • Letting others know you’re listening through facial expressions and verbal sounds (“mm-hmm”)
  • Being able to repeat what others have said, practically word-for-word

In fact, much management advice on listening suggests doing these very things: encouraging listeners to remain quiet, nod and “mm-hmm” encouragingly, and then repeat back to the talker something ...

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