The Lost Art of Listening

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Little Wonder

It’s little wonder to me that people no longer know how to listen as they stress out communicating in a digital world flooded with text messages and email. Knowing how to listen is a critical component in your ability to have a meaningful in-person conversation with anyone.

Sadly, too often, when we’re face-to-face with someone else we jump to conclusions about their persona based on our quick study of their physical appearance and mannerisms. How we listen and respond to others is subject to our perceptions of them based on our own stereotypical experiences.  Listening is tied into seeing.

Now that mindfulness has become such a popular trend in business, my first recommendation to have a meaningful conversation with someone else is to be mindful — “be fully present in the moment, with no prejudgment and with a purpose.” This sets the stage for effective communication. My second recommendation is to keep your mouth shut and listen mindfully.

Mouth Zipped

Forget about the commonly listed listening techniques of nodding, saying ‘uh huh’, feigning interest, etc. – they are all crap.

You can’t be half in and half out of a conversation. One of your goals is to develop a reasonably accurate understanding of the person(s) you are addressing in order to actively engage with them. To open the lines of communication, first open your mind.

My next recommendation – don’t mentally multi-task. There is little you can do to hide the fact that you are multitasking from anybody who’s reasonably perceptive. Don’t be surprised if they feel disrespected and disengage with you.

Listening is a mind/body skill that takes constant practice. Your body language is also critical to your ability to listen effectively.

Blumsack Brown BackgroundAs a coach, trainer and consultant, Larry Blumsack partners with people and organizations on the move and those already there to accelerate their communication, presentation and speaking skills to be on par with their ambition. Through one-on-one coaching and group training Larry helps leaders and aspiring leaders elevate their presence and communication skills to influence more people, sell more products-services-ideas and inspire others more successfully than they ever imagined.

Larry is the bestselling author of Face-to-Face is The Ultimate Social Media and founder of Zoka Institute and Zoka Training®. Zoka Training® — Mind/Voice/Body/Mindfulness in sync — is the result of Larry’s 45 years as a coach, acting teacher, actor, voice-over artist, theater and TV director/producer, radio & TV commentator and show host, speaker, trainer, serial entrepreneur, and syndicated columnist. Larry was a founding member of the theater department at Northeastern University.

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