Thursday, March 1, 2012

“Hey – Listen Up!”

I'm All Ears...
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By Akindman

How many of us are really good listeners?

Sadly, my hand remains lowered. While I try to be a listener – watch the body language, and to identify the important points – this is hard work for an ADD/ADHD person like me.  There have been many occasions that having audio/video captured of a conversation, meeting, conference and the like were made available to me.

March is International Listening Awareness Month
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The International Listening Association states that there:

The Purpose of the Association is to advance the practice, teaching, and research of listening throughout the world.

The purpose of the Association will be accomplished in the following ways:
  1. The Association will establish a network of professionals committed to promoting the study and development of effective listening;
  2. Members will exchange information by sharing teaching objectives, learning activities, promotional methods, materials and additional professional experiences;
  3. Members are encouraged to pursue listening research as listening affects humanity on multiple levels of economic, educational, racial, cultural, and international relations; and
  4. Members will pursue management strategies and efforts promoting effective listening in government and business.

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I for one like the words above and also wonder just where this is being practiced today?

How are our children/grandchildren being taught to be good listeners?

Children learn from watching others – so who are those others that practice these important skills?

How many parents, teachers, and or other adults really practice good listening skills?

What resources are available to the common person?

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Travis Bradberry, bestselling author of "Emotional Intelligence 2.0" offers the following:

No two people will have the same account of an event, no matter how much they were paying attention.

"When a bank robbery happens and there are five different folks on the witness stand, they all saw the same thing, but their description of what happened will not be the same," Bradberry explains. "This is because they all had different emotional states. We found in our research that if the event has less emotion, the results will be more similar, but if it's dangerous or highly emotional, the stories vary greatly."

In order to become a better listener, Bradberry says we need to increase our emotional intelligence. Here are five of Bradberry's essential strategies.

Don't take notes at meetings. Try watching who's speaking instead – pay attention to what you miss while you're usually looking down at your notebook.

Clear your mind. Focus when you're talking to others. Pay attention to what you're thinking when they're speaking; if you're planning out your response rather than listening to them, you need to work on your focus.

Absorb the feedback. Don't just react – be sure you are really taking in the information the other person is giving you. Ask questions or ask for specific examples if you still want clarification.

Don't argue, understand. Having a tough conversation? Don't just plan your rebuttal – really listen, then start with where you agree and move the discussion toward a solution by asking them to help you understand their point.

Body language is key. Study your conversation partner. Are they making hand gestures? Are they slouching or crossing their arms? Are they relaxed or uncomfortable? This can help you understand what they're not telling you as much as what they ARE telling you.

Just like building a muscle, Bradberry says with practice, even the terrible listeners can transform over time.
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  1. Remove All Distractions;
  2. Be Present;
  3. Wait for the Person to Finish Speaking (in the start);
  4. Don’t Assume Anything;
  5. Look at the Sub-Text;
  6. Clarify to ensure you got what the person is saying; and
  7. Ask Questions.

There are several good web/blog sites available to obtain ideas on how to become a better listener – do a little research, pick those points that make sense to you, try them, tweak them as necessary and practice, practice and practice.

Good luck and here’s to better listening this month and beyond.

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Links for more information about Listening:

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