Active Listening

Active Listening

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
-Stephen R. Covey

How are your listening skills?  For many of us, they could use some work.  Too often we spend entire conversations focused on our side of things, thinking about what we’ll say next.  Our attention isn’t necessarily on the speaker, but on our own thoughts, feelings, or opinions. Without realizing it, our communication with others suffers because we are not paying proper attention.  And if our communication with others is not effective, our work, our relationships, and our ability to bring out the best in others suffers.

One of the most powerful tools to improve communication is active listening:

Active listening is not just hearing someone’s words, but being engaged in the conversation.  It requires concentration.  This kind of listening means being focused and fully present in the moment.

Active listening is paying attention to what is being said, as well as to what is not being said.  Nonverbal behaviors such as posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact (or lack thereof) often convey a person’s thoughts or feelings more accurately than their actual words.  
Active listening not only enables the listener to take in information from others more effectively, but to act on that information more effectively.

Active listening converts simple, everyday interactions with others into opportunities for a deeper level of understanding; and that's really what we should be striving for . . . listening with the intent of understanding, not simply replying.

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