All Posts in Category: Listening Skills


From: “Throw the Rabbit, The Ultimate Approach to Three-Dimensional Selling

by Joe Bonura, CSP

A good listener looks at the speaker and makes Eye Contact.

A good listener does not finish the other person’s sentences. There is nothing more irritating than trying to express an original thought when someone cuts in and assumes the rest of the statement.

A good listener uses positive body language. Keep your arms open, and not crossed, to indicate that you understand their ideas. Occasionally, nod your head or shrug your shoulders to get your body involved in the process of listening.

A good listener uses positive verbal signals. Say “u-huh” or “hmmm,” or “I understand.” As the speaker gives you information, these verbal signals, which give positive feedback, will reveal that you are in the conversation. Imagine the confusion if you telephoned someone, but they made no response when you answered the phone. You would continue to ask, “Are you there?”

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Focus and concentration are critical to success in most undertakings and it is especially critical in human relationships. When you “Multi-task,” i.e. thinking about something else, checking your email, reading a report, or doing anything else while you are conversing with someone in person or by phone is not focusing or concentrating. Two things can happen and neither is good: 1. The other person will sense it and could feel devalued and/or 2. You might miss something crucial to the relationship or issue being discussed.

Either of these outcomes can hamper productivity, lower the quality of work, and damage an important relationship. Listed below are 16 tips for staying in the moment. Pick one or more that might be an issue for you and make a concentrated effort to improve. Then, pick another and continue the process until you are a master at staying in the moment.

  1. Focus on what the other person is saying.
  2. Pay attention to tone, inflection, phrasing, speed, volume, etc.; try to match the other person without being obvious.
  3. Use the other person’s name; this can help you concentrate.
  4. Paraphrase (helps you concentrate & clarifies understanding).
  5. Make eye contact.
  6. Face the other person squarely; avoid turning your shoulders as if you’re trying to leave, looking at your watch, etc.
  7. Eliminate distractions.
  8. Ask questions; pause and let the other person answer.
  9. Talk less; don’t interrupt.
  10. Avoid being judgmental or thinking about what you’ll say next; if you pause after someone speaks or asks a question, it will appear that you are giving the person’s thought or question careful consideration and, at the same time, it will give you time to think of a response.
  11. Acknowledge key points with nods and/or phrases (“I see,” “I understand,” “Right,” “Makes sense,” etc.).
  12. Resist jumping to conclusions or pre-judging.
  13. Ask relevant, open-end questions, e.g. “What do you mean by that?” “When you say…” “Tell me more.” “Tell me about it.”
  14. Act like the other person is the most important person in the world; at this moment, he or she is.
  15. Set a goal to learn something from everyone you meet.
  16. Help people be right.
  17. Take notes; have a mindset that you will need to send the other person a recap of what he or she said even if you won’t.

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Listening involves more than your ears. It involves your eyes and any other senses you can put into play. When you see what a person pays attention to, you can tell what their intentions are. Listen to the words they use. Watch their facial expressions and body language. What is important to them? Are they using contradictory terms or phrases? Are they avoiding answering certain questions or skirting certain issues? Are they making eye contact? All of these are signals you can interpret to help you communicate. This is called active listening. Think of listening as a precious gift you are giving the other person. Even in the most difficult situations, people appreciate it when you listen.

Some of the Benefits of Active Listening Include:

  • Prevent misunderstandings
  • Improve insight into people’s wants and needs
  • Enhance relationships
  • Increase opportunities to learn
  • Reduce friction and resolve conflicts
  • Enlist support and favorable responses
  • Encourage a more honest and sincere exchange

People Fail to Hear Because They Are:

  • Too busy preparing what they are going to say
  • Letting their mind wander (We listen at least four times faster than we speak.)
  • Lazy (It takes effort to listen effectively.)
  • Faking attention
  • Egotistical or mentally set (They lack interest in what other people are saying.)
  • Impatient

To Encourage Others to Talk So We Can Listen:

  • Will Rogers said, “Never miss a good opportunity to shut up.” Most people have a favorite topic – themselves. Keep in mind that it is hard to get away from a good listener. People will think you are brilliant when you let them talk about themselves.
  • Be sincerely interested in what other people are saying. People can sense insincerity and they will stop sending.
  • Encourage people with supportive nods and phrases.
  • Guide the conversation with questions. Remember, the question mark is mightier than the exclamation point.
  • Avoid interrupting other people.
  • Concentrate on what other people are trying to say – their words, ideas, and feelings related to the subject.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Stay in the moment. Compartmentalize any other issues that might distract you.
  • Get rid of distractions. Put down papers or pencils, unless you are taking notes. Turn off your cell phone or put it on silent mode. Turn your computer monitor off and/or shutdown your computer or laptop.
  • Ask for clarification if you do not understand a point or idea.


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