Listening - Two Ears and a Mouth - 2gno.me

Demonstrating good listening skills can result in us securing successful business deals and solidifying healthy relationships. Yet, how many times have we found ourselves talking to people only to discover they hadn’t really heard us at all? Or looking back and realizing we’d talked too much ourselves without bothering to find out how the other person was feeling?

For centuries, wise people have understood the importance of minimizing the noise we make in order to listen to and learn from those around us. “We have two ears and one mouth,” philosopher Epictetus said, “so we may listen twice as much as we speak.”

Active, engaged listening is an important part of being a good communicator. It’s a skill that’s well worth cultivating, and the reason is simple: the more you listen, the more you learn.

Here are a few helpful strategies to help you become a better listener:

Keep good eye contact. Sometimes just remembering to look at the person we’re talking with can be a good reminder to pay attention and practice active listening skills.

“Listen” in more ways than one. It’s possible to interpret thoughts the other person is conveying beyond just the words they’re uttering. We can pay attention to facial expressions, inflections in tone and body language. All are clues to the overall meaning.

Avoid doing too much at once. Our bosses seem to place high value on multitasking, but it often results in diluted attention toward the most important tasks.

Quit thinking ahead. If we’re formulating our replies as the conversation is taking place, it’s a sign we’re not fully listening. Digest and consider the other person’s viewpoint and feelings before responding.

Tune out interruptions. We’re probably all guilty of letting a phone call, e-mail notification or text message turn our attention away from a presenter or a pal. It’s just plain rude to willingly pay attention to others who are intruding on the current conversation. Be in the moment and let the others wait.

Eliminate distractions. If the show on TV or the song on Pandora keeps pulling us away from the person who’s talking to us, either turn it off or hit the pause button. Human feelings trump entertainment.

Learn to validate. One of the best ways we can let people know we’ve heard them is to echo back, in our own words, what they’ve said to us. That way, they’ll know we understood or they can clarify what we’ve misinterpreted.

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