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Five Ways to Up Your Listening Game

November 15, 2015

By Mark Dottore

Effective listening is one of the most important skills that a strong receiver and mediator can have, and yet it's the one that most people should further develop. According to the International Listening Association, more than 35 studies indicate that listening is a top skill needed for success in business, yet less than 2% of all professionals obtain training to improve listening skills.

Effective listening can open the door to new ideas for solutions, increase trust and respect among all parties, and boost closure rates. These 5 tips can help you improve your listening skills.

  1. Put yourself to the side. In a world of social media and comments sections, we know that everyone wants to be heard. Put your own perspective on hold and truly focus on what the person in front of you has to say.
  2. Interpret what you hear. Real listening involves both listening AND interpreting. Many times, people communicate the symptoms of a larger issue. Keeping this in mind, you can dig deeper by interpreting their initial complaints to get to the core of the problem.
  3. Ask open-ended questions. Ask questions that encourage interpretation, such as: “Tell me what you make of what I just said?” or “How does this recommendation impact your thinking?”
  4. Repeat what you heard the other person say. Clarification is an important part of listening because it demonstrates that you’re listening, which earns trust. It also ensures that everyone is on the same page moving forward.
  5. Validate what you heard. While voicing your point of view, bring key points into the conversation using words like, “To your point…” and “That’s a great segway to the next action item…”

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