10 - What is the Art of Listening?
Effective communication is the cornerstone of every relationship, and the cornerstone of effective communication is listening.
With active listening, you can fulfill two basic human needs: acknowledgement and approval.
“The two words 'information' and 'communication' are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.” Sydney J. Harris
I work with my clients and their employees to improve communication. We start with active listening, and the understanding that waiting for the other person to stop speaking is not really listening.
To become an active listener, follow these guidelines:
- Focus on the speaker and make no assumptions about what they want or need
- Acknowledge the speaker and repeat what you’ve heard, asking if you are correct
- Allow the speaker to correct or add
- Repeat step 2 until you get it right
- Close the loop by showing approval and asking what the speaker needs from you
Note that approval does not necessarily mean agreement. Approval might sound like: “I can see why you feel so frustrated!” or “That’s an interesting point…..”
As you practice active listening and make it part of your communication style, people will respond to you in a more positive and constructive way. Try it internally with your staff and then with clients. Ensure that you are ‘getting through’, not just ‘giving out.’
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