Five tips for listening so people talk
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Listening is probably the most frequently used but least effective communication skill. We all learn how to write good, polite business letters and how to talk to international guests, but did you ever learn how to listen?
True listening is priceless, and there are no shortcuts. You cannot pretend to listen when in reality you are not. But if you do listen properly, you have the key to another’s thoughts, motivation and behaviour. The better you listen, the more you develop a shared meaning with your colleagues, boss or customers.
Use these tips and phrases to show you are listening. They work equally well on the phone or in face-to-face communication.
1 Ask questions and make comments to show you’re listening
Encourage people to talk by making comments and asking questions.
So what did you do when you left IBM?
That must have been really interesting.
And what do you think you’d like to do next?
2 Summarise what the person has said
So you mean everything is fine now?
Which means you now have to make a decision, does it?
So what you’re saying is that they are going to change all their plans?
3 Listen actively
That’s really interesting!
That’s very strange!
Wow, that’s the first time I’ve
thought of it like that.
4 Check if you didn’t understand something
What did you just say?
I don’t really understand that.
Can you explain it again?
I’m sorry, but you’ve lost me.
What happened after Tuesday?
5 Make affirmative sounds
You don’t always have to say full sentences. Hmm, ah, oh.
These techniques work equally well on the phone or face-to-face. Use them and you will see how your communication skills increase. Remember, as the old saying goes: “God gave us two ears and only one mouth so we could listen twice as much as we talk.”