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Active Listening:

For most of us, good communication means speaking or writing well – but listening is just as important. In fact, this often overlooked skill can make or break your career in management. The best leaders know that to be most effective, they must do more listening than speaking. Here are some tips that can help you become a better listener.

Pay Attention:
Look directly at the person speaking. Instead of thinking about your response, focus on what's being said. Be aware of your body language. Poor posture, drumming fingers and tapping feet can break the connection between you and the speaker. In addition, avoid using your computer while talking on the phone – you are guaranteed to tune out a portion of the conversation if you are engaged in another activity.

Take Thorough Notes:
Bring a pen and paper to every meeting you attend, but don't let your note-taking interfere with the flow of conversation. Write down key words, ideas, dates and activities in outline form. Review your notes immediately after the meeting and fill in gaps where necessary.

Don't Interrupt:
While it's tempting to break into the conversation, always let the speaker finish. Otherwise, you run the risk of short-circuiting specific information or ideas. One key principle: Learn to become comfortable with the few seconds of silence that occur when someone pauses mid-thought. This isn't an invitation for you to join in.

Ask Questions:
Agreeing with everything you hear doesn't mean you're a good listener. Active listening means asking questions to clarify significant points.

By taking an active approach to improving your listening skills, you build a strong foundation for assuming broader, increasingly complex responsibilities.

 

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"Look directly at the person speaking. Instead of thinking about your response, focus on what's being said."