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Listen with FOCUS April 30, 2007

Posted by David Dirks in Bronder On People.
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rbronder1.jpgMost people think they know what active listening is. But the Big Dogz know how to do it. The key skill in high performance management is listening. It is easy to apply the principles of CLEAR communication; it not so easy to listen while someone else is talking. We tend to get distracted with our own thoughts and sometimes we are crafting our rebuttals while the other person is speaking. Although almost everyone would say the goal of active listening is to understand what the other person is saying, I want you to think of it this way:

Goal: allow and encourage a person to freely communicate their needs and opinions

To accomplish this goal requires us to listen with FOCUS.

Facilitate a dialogue — acknowledge emotion and demonstrate empathy. Address emotion before you let the speaker move on. A good technique is to use the exact word or phrase the speaker uses, especially if they are excited. If you have experienced what they are talking about sincerely express your empathy. “I know how you feel.” “I’d be upset if that happened to me.”

Open — be receptive to other perspectives, seek the other person’s perspective. Be careful of focusing on your rebuttal or position while the speaker is talking. Let them go first, it allows you to identify where you agree and where there are differences.

Concentrate — pay physical attention to the speaker. Make eye contact, nod your head and set aside what you are doing. Pay mental attention to what the speaker is saying. Be alert for non verbal signals that may be contradicting the words the speaker is using. Concentration is especially important in face to face communication. Studies have shown that the words we say make up only 7% of the message; the other 93% of the message is carried in the tone and non-verbal signals.

Understand — ask questions if you do not understand. Request the speaker to use a different analogy or example. Ask clarification questions to demonstrate understanding. Relate what the speaker has said to you own experiences. Insure you understand the speaker’s point of view before expressing yours.

Summarize — use paraphrasing to summarize what the speaker has said. Do a periodic summary to indicate you are listening and understand. Verify with the speaker that you understand correctly.

Try experimenting with active listening with FOCUS over the next 30 days. I am sure you will see less misunderstanding in your communication process. Things will get done more efficiently and you will reap both the profit of improved relationships and the increased profit of increased income to your business.

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