Rules for Effective Listening

Perhaps you have been a poor listener. Merely deciding to try to listen harder will not work. You must discipline yourself and make a firm commitment to improve this skill. Here are six ways you can practice listening with feeling on a daily basis.

  1. Maintain good eye contact. Focus your full attention on hour partner. (Turn off the television and put down the paper.)
  2. Sit attentively. For a few minutes act as if nothing else in the world matters except hearing your partner out. Block all other distractions from your mind. Lean forward in your chair.
  3. Act interested in what you are about to hear. Raise your eyebrows, nod your head, smile, or laugh when appropriate.
  4. Sprinkle your attentive listening with appropriate phrases to show agreement, interest, and understanding. Your partner wants to know that you understand the ideas he’s presenting. Try to think through what he is saying and fit it into your own experience.
  5. Ask well-phrased questions. Give encouragement by asking questions that illustrate your interest.
  6. Listen a little longer. Just when you think you are through listening, listen thirty seconds longer.

Do you have a communication problem? During the next week focus your attention not on your mate’s failures but on your own. Being aware is only the first step. Next, set about to correct the problem. And last, follow through in an attempt to upgrade your communication with your loved ones. If you are uncertain whether a problem exists, ask your mate what he dislikes the most about the way you talk or listen.

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