Sunday, August 1, 2010

Can You Hear Me? Are You Listening?

Have you heard this before? From you partner or spouse, or your child, or peer/ direct report or even your boss? Sorry to make an immediate play on words, but it is essential to discuss whether we are ‘hearing’ or ‘listening’. There is a distinct difference between the two, and it all leads to our credibility as a vested partner in a relationship, no matter if it is at work, home or in the community.

Hearing is all about the words – your ears are taking in information. You can hear words, you just may not necessarily digest what they mean in specific context or even comprehend the body language, tone of voice and hand gestures that go along with the words, to completely change the meaning.

If you are listening, you are putting aside all distractions and paying attention, facing the individual and engaging your whole body in the experience – eyes, ears, senses and emotions. Listening features highly in building respect and trust in any relationship, including impacting your own credibility. Listening helps you to learn from others – about what they do, what they know, what they need – and even how you can apply their knowledge to your own circumstance. Listening is really about learning from people – making everyone better at the same time.

Improve your listening skills by:

Put everything down that you are working with or on and face the person speaking to you.

Take note of the key words in conversations and use them to repeat back thoughts and your own understanding.

Guiding Principle: you have 2 ears and 1 mouth – use them in the same proportion.

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