“Are you talking to me?!?”
  by Mary Zierold Holcomb

A successful business leader knows that good listening skills are critical, for both the employer and the employee. All too often people hear words, but not the meaning behind them.

The Business Institute provides comprehensive customer relations and employee management training including active listening skills development. Here are some key points on becoming an effective, “active” listener. Call us if you’d like to learn more.

Listen rather than just hear.

  • Read between the lines: is there an unspoken message?
  • Evaluate the words and their possible meaning(s.)
  • Pay attention to the speaker’s tone of voice, emotions, and the context of the message. Use all of your senses to listen!

Interact with the speaker.

  • Ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with “yes” or “no.”
  • Paraphrase, or re-state, what you believe the speaker said, for clarification.
  • Determine what the speaker really wants.

Solve the problem. There is a difference between solving and merely venting.

  • Take specific notes, if you are dealing with a customer.
  • Think about possible solutions to the request or problem.
  • Focus on the other person’s needs, not your own.

Trigger Words should convey a positive, rather than a negative, tone.

  • “I can” instead of “I can’t”
  • “And” rather than “but”
  • “I can understand why you…” instead of “you should have…”
  • “The best option may be…” rather than “the only thing we can do is…”
  • “Thank you” instead of “I’m sorry”

Empathy reflects your understanding of the person’s situation.

  • Use facial expressions, like smiling, as appropriate.
  • Show genuine concern or interest.
  • Do not judge.

Nonverbal body language speaks as clearly as words.

  • Use an open stance; do not fold or cross your arms in front of you.
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Show your interest in what the person is saying by your body position, such as leaning toward the speaker.

Active listening is an intent to “listen for meaning.” Becoming an active listener will help to prevent misunderstandings, resolve conflict, and build trust and cooperation.1

The Business Institute is here to listen to YOUR needs! Call the Business Institute at 815-291-6981 or email businessinstitute@highland.edu for more information or to schedule a business training consultation – Today!

1 http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_listening#Tactics


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October 2007