12 Principles of Effective Listening

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effective listening


To get ahead in your career … to be successful at what you do … it’s important to listen and hear what is really being said. Here are 12 principles to help you listen more effectively:

  1. Avoid unintentional negative body language — this can send the message to the speaker that you’re not really interested in what he or she is saying.


  1. Be aware of any personal filters or internal distractions — don’t let preconceived notions or personal concerns impact your ability to listen.


  1. Listen completely before responding — don’t be in such a hurry to make your point that you neglect what the other person is saying.


  1. Determine what the speaker really means — is the speaker being intentionally obtuse or is he or she implying something else? Get to the bottom of what is really being said.


  1. Observe the speaker’s body language — this can tell you a lot about the message and its impact on the speaker.


  1. Consider using reflective listening techniques — repeat back parts of the speech to convey understanding.


  1. Avoid external distractions — be fully engaged in what is being said.


  1. Be open-minded — respond to facts, not emotions, even if you are upset by what you’re hearing.


  1. Step into the other person’s shoes — practice empathy and try to understand where he or she is coming from.


  1. Stop talking — you can’t listen when you’re flapping your own gums.


  1. Don’t finish other people’s thoughts — you may think you know what someone is going to say. You don’t, so don’t finish the thoughts.


  1. Use leading words — phrases like “I see” or “Tell me more” show that you are listening and help you get the whole story.

Agree? Disagree? Add your insightful comments here.