Did you know – on average we spend 70-80% of our day in some form of communication whether it’s talking, writing, speaking, using our body language or our listening skills. Wow!

When I was growing up and it was time to correct the errors of my ways, my parents would gather around the kitchen table. Dad on one end, mom on the side and me at the other end. The conversation would revolve around a discussion of “what I had done wrong” in their opinion, how my behavior would change and what was expected next. Though this would replace other forms of punishment, I learned at a young age that I could travel elsewhere in my mind, not pay attention to what was said and come back when the one-way conversation was over to agree to whatever the end result had been decided. Can anyone else relate?

What that experience taught me was to rely on the ability to take my mind elsewhere when conversations were uneasy. I would avoid confrontation at all cost and shut down mentally and emotionally. It wasn’t until I was teaching that I began to understand the importance of listening skills.

When I began to understand the difference between active and passive listening skills, I became a better communicator. I became a better leader as well as a student. We can all benefit from more effective communication skills that build relationships with our customers and business partners.

Here are the things I practiced and you can too:

Ask Questions – I do this in the form of “help me understand…” This way I am letting the person know I want to understand what they want to convey.

Repeat – this is a great way to paraphrase what you think you heard the person say. Ex. – I heard you say… or let me repeat what I think I heard you say. This way you aren’t taking anything for granted.

Be Attentive – make eye contact, add gestures such as a head nod, a smile. Let the person know you are listening to what they are saying even if you may not agree. There’s time for discussion. Re-frame from interrupting another. Great communication works both ways. And defer judgment because we can always agree to disagree and still respect the other person.

Developing great listening skills takes time and is an art. However, you and your business will flourish when great listening skills are incorporated.

I’d love to see your comments on your experiences. Are you a good listener? 

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