I once read the famous quote from the Greek philosopher Epictetus, ‘We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.’ This quote remains highly relevant in today’s working environment.
I guess we all have been part of meetings in which the speaker engages in one-way communication treating participants as a cinema audience. An audience that just sits and listens and where no feedback or discussions are sought or encouraged. This results in a missed opportunity towards building strong interpersonal relationships.
Such speakers forget that mutually successful relationships are built on the reciprocity of “giving and taking”. Successful leaders at any level of the organization know that a crucial factor in building firm and resilient relationships is to listen more and speak less.
Here are some tips on how to improve your INTENTIONAL LISTENING skills
· Make a conscious effort to hear the other person’s words.
· Learn to identify “hidden” non-verbal messages.
· Don’t interrupt, wait for clarification, and nod or say “OK” occasionally.
· Wait to respond until the whole message has been delivered.
· Avoid becoming distracted by your own thoughts or opinions.
· Avoid any judgment or criticism, focus on the situation, not the person.
· Do not play devil’s advocate as you may discourage open communication.
Become an intentional listener, and remember the intrinsic by-product are high-quality interpersonal relationships that provide the ground of our own daily experiences.
Good listening skills promote:
- Healthier interpersonal relationships at work and with family members
- Builds rapport and helps generates trust
- Listening intently reduces tension between the counterparts
- Results in more effective conversations reducing misunderstandings
Remember there is a reason for having 2 ears and only one mouth!
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