Of all the skills involved in communication, one of the most critical is the ability to listen well. It is a vital element of both our work and personal lives, but it is not a skill that is often taught.
“We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.” –Diogenes
We can listen about twice as fast as a person can talk, which makes it pretty easy for our attention to wander to other things. Add to that the many distractions that often exist, and it is no wonder that studies show that we’re distracted or preoccupied during about 75 percent of our conversations.
Listening is focused attention. Think how well you would listen if someone was talking you through defusing a bomb! While it may not always be a matter of life or death, many mistakes are made through a lack of listening.
“You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” –M. Scott Peck
From the Daily Planit:
- Practice active listening with a partner. Take turns discussing the topic “something I’m really proud of is…” First use ineffective listening, then effective listening (one minute of each)
- Listening Skills (pdf)
- Listening Report Card (pdf)
Other places to learn listening skills:
- Take a listening skills quiz at Mindtools.com, and an active listening skills quiz from McGraw-Hill.
- Watch video How to Improve Your Listening Skills from Litmos Heros (4:54)
- Active Listening activity at the Greater Good
- Listening Skills lesson at gcflearnfree.org
- Practice listening skills at British Council.
- Listening Skills at skillsyouneed.com
- Watch TED Talk: “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation” by Celeste Headlee
$ Listening Skills 101 course at Universalclass
Learn more about the #1 Skill Employers Want: Communication.