Listen Carefully and don’t Multi-Task while Listening

To become an effective communicator, you need to learn to listen just as much as you need to learn to speak. Unfortunately, most people focus more on the speaking than they do on the listening. Whether in a one-on-one conversation or a group meeting or classroom, focusing on what others are saying allows you to present yourself more effectively. When you listen correctly, you also learn more.

Don’t multi-task if you are supposed to be listening. You wind up listening to only part of what someone says, or pretending to listen while you think about something else. You also sacrifice important non-verbal cues and information about their intent, their confidence level, and their commitment level. Even if you think that you can get enough of what people say while multi-tasking to serve your immediate purposes, you should assume as a general rule that people notice when you don’t listen to them attentively.

If you are tempted to split your attention between listening and something else, ask yourself whether you can risk appearing disinterested and the negative impression that it is likely to make on them.

Avoid allowing interruptions that cause you to lose concentration or split your attention. Eliminate background noise, ringing telephones, and people dropping in. Don’t read email, use a computer, or read something while someone else is talking to you.

If you find your attention wandering, decide why you don’t want to listen. Think about what you might get out of listening. Then choose whether to listen or not.

Summing-up: Kill the multi-tasking during conversations. You cannot do it and communicate effectively.

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