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Tips to Make You a Better Listener

You can become a better listener if you want. You can stop some of the main causes that affect listening before they begin. Changing your environment and approach to listening will result in better listening and better communications.

Control Distractions. One of the biggest distractions is the telephone. You are giving the speaker your full attention and then the phone rings. When you answer the call, you are sending the message that you are not listening and it interrupts the discussion and train of thought. You can avoid this by directing all calls to voice mail or having an assistant answer the incoming calls.

Be Organized. If your desk is cluttered with paper, notes, books, etc., then your eyes will probably skim the material and you will find that you end up reading some of those instead of listening. File or put the stuff in a drawer so that you won't be distracted. If you go to a meeting room, take only material related to the topic of discussion.

Be an Active Listener. Participate in the discussion by asking questions and clarifying what is being said. This will show the other person that you are understanding and interested in what they are saying.

Take Notes. It is virtually impossible to remember everything that is being said in a lengthy conversation. Jot down notes and key phrases to jog your memory for future reference. Immediately after the meeting write the details and a summary of the discussion.

Source: Sorrell Associates.