CHAPTER 5 Are You Just “Waiting to Talk”? Listening to Understand

As you can tell by now, the theme of this book is that you create more effective messages about yourself and your ideas when you focus less on yourself and more on other people. That’s how you differentiate yourself from most other people in business and in life. Your goal when communicating is to meet the needs of the other person. The only way to know what the other person needs is to ask, and then to truly, deeply, listen. Therefore, communicating effectively isn’t just about the way you send out information. It’s also about the way you take in information.

Listening well is hard work. We tend to think of listening as a passive exercise, as if it requires no energy from us.

“Did you want to share something at today’s meeting?”

“No. I’ll just sit and listen.”

Compared to being the speaker at the meeting, most of us would find being the listener the easier task. But listening well takes energy.

When you’re listening to someone, all of the body language factors mentioned in the chapter on your delivery skills still apply. In addition, there are several body language cues specific to when you are listening.

When we’re talking to someone, we want to know he is engaged with us, that he is processing what we are saying. We feel better when the person gives us some kind of indication that he follows the gist of what we are sharing with him. We appreciate the occasional nod, the thoughtful “um hmm,” the eye contact ...

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