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Effective Listening

Tips for effective listening: productive listening does not occur naturally. It requires hard work and practice.
Effective listening is challenging, in part, because people often are more focused on what they’re
saying than on what they’re hearing in return.

1. CONCENTRATE ON WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING.

When listening to someone, do you often find yourself thinking about a job or task that is nearing deadline or an important family matter? In the middle of a conversation, do you sometimes realize that you haven’t heard a word the other person has said?

Most individuals speak at the rate of 175 to 200 words per minute. However, research suggests that we are very capable of listening and processing words at the rate of 600 to 1,000 words per minute. It is important to actively concentrate on what others are saying so that effective communication can occur.

2. SEND THE NONVERBAL MESSAGE THAT YOU ARE LISTENING

When someone is talking to you, do you maintain eye contact with that person? Do you show the speaker you are listening by nodding your head? Does your body language transmit the message that you are listening? Are you leaning forward and not using your hands to play with things? Most communication experts agree that nonverbal messages can be three times as powerful as verbal messages.

Effective communication becomes difficult anytime you send a nonverbal message that you’re not really listening.

3. AVOID EARLY EVALUATIONS.

When listening, do you often make immediate judgments about what the speaker is saying? Do you assume or guess what the speaker is going to say next? Do you sometimes discover later that you failed to interpret correctly what the speaker was telling you? Because a listener can listen at a faster rate than most speakers talk, there is a tendency to evaluate too quickly. That tendency is perhaps the greatest barrier to effective listening. It is especially important to avoid early evaluations when listening to a person with whom you disagree. When listeners begin to disagree with a sender’s message, they tend to misinterpret the remaining information and distort its intended meaning so that it is consistent with their own beliefs.

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