Communicating as a Leader

How to Shine in Communication with Listening Skills

Peter Murphy asked:

Do you have good listening skills? Listening happens to be a key strength of good communicators. If you want to develop good communication listening skills, there are some steps you have to follow:

1) It would help if you feel empathy for the other party when you are listening. You will be able to absorb what the other person is saying better if you have empathy because the content will be close to your heart.

2) Empathy is also important because if you have empathy, you will be able to form an association between the knowledge you value in your head and the content of the message of the other person.

3) Avoid judging the delivery of the message and the person delivering the message, if possible. This allows you to focus on the content of the message rather than on the style of delivery.

4) You can rely on some techniques to improve your level of comprehension a spoken message. For example, you can ask the other person to repeat his message or certain parts of it. Then you can rephrase the message content in your own words and ask the other party if what you understood is correct.

5) Try to maintain an active body state. If you are alert, it will be easier to fight any distractions that would prevent you from comprehending the message.

6) Try to get as much detail as you can from the person about the message. This means asking intelligent and pertinent questions. Then try to restate the message in your own words so you can determine how much you actually absorbed and understood.

7) It helps if you are genuinely interested in the other person and the message. If you are bored (both with the person and the message), it will definitely show both in your body language and your replies. If you are not interested in either the person or the message, etiquette dictates that you excuse yourself politely and go somewhere else so that you will not waste your time or the time of the other person.

8) Ever heard the phrase ‘one touch is equal to a thousand words’? Well, basically what that means is, your body language can convey a lot of meaning. Study the body language of the other person so you can get the non-verbal cues he is sending. He might be irritable, sad, happy, or angry – all these emotions are subtly conveyed by his body language, not just by a spoken message.

9) To keep the conversational ball rolling, make an effort to ask the other party what his point of view or opinions are. Not only is this polite, you might actually learn something valuable in the process.

10) You should also let the other person know what your own perspective or opinions are. Try to make these specific rather than couch them in broad terms so that the other party knows exactly where you stand. This will reduce instances of miscommunication.

11) If the other person has offended you somehow, be vocal about your displeasure but do not get angry. Try to control your emotions so that the situation does not worsen.

12) Try to maintain an objective stance regarding your reactions and the consequences of the actions of the other person. This means being able to take a step back and view the situation from an objective point of view.

13) Do not try to own the conversation by dominating the flow and ignoring attempts by the other person to be heard. Try to dominate the other person and you will find you will get fewer and fewer people who want to talk to you.

14) If the other party uses emotion-laden words, sieve through the message without reacting automatically to the emotion. This will help defuse a potentially-volatile situation.

15) Follow-up any resolution to the situation. If you and the other party have agreed on something, schedule a second or even third meeting to smooth out any remaining rough spots.

This tips are just some of the ways to bolster your communication listening skills. Test these ideas and you will see the big difference they can make.

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