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Certified Health Coach, Award Winning Author, Motivational Muse

GTOMC: Are You Hard of Listening?

My father was deaf in his left ear, probably due to military artillery when he served in the army. He liked to call it his “Buy My! Give Me! Get Me! Ear” because he slept on the right side of my mother. My mother said my father’s real hearing problem was that he was hard of listening. He listened when it was interesting to him; otherwise he ignored the chatter.

Do you know people like that? They just don’t listen, or they listen selectively. Worse these days is distracted listening. You know what I mean: People who are multi-tasking or texting and scrolling through social media while you’re talking to them. An what about parents who ignore their screaming children or pet owners who don’t silence their barking dogs (mea culpa!).

It’s easy to be a smooth talker, but it’s harder to be a good listener. How effectively one listens is an even more important communications skill than how one speaks.  You can “listen” to someone in many ways; it’s not just the sound of their voice. You can listen and watch their body language. You can listen to your own inner voice as you hear someone make a point. You can listen to someone say nothing. A lack of response can speak volumes.


Here are tips to being a good listener:

  1. Give the person speaking your full attention. This means put down the mobile phone, move away from the computer and don’t allow your thoughts to wander. I find it helps to take a few deep breaths and step away from wherever I am sitting and whatever I am doing to refocus.
  2. If the person is talking too fast or slow or is losing your attention for another reason (too long winded perhaps) ask her to stop for a minute so you can collect your thoughts. Or take a break and ask a question or two. Sometimes people who are trying to make a point don’t realize that over talking can drown someone out.
  3. If the discussion is about a complicated topic try repeating a few things the person is saying. It’s a mnemonic trick to keep you focused and help you remember.
  4. If a person is saying nothing and you are doing all the speaking try shutting up and seeing what happens. A quiet or shy person may feel he is never given the time and space to talk or prefers sharing expression in another way, like touch. Give him a chance to comfortably communicate.
  5. Ask questions. Some people just need to be drawn out of their shell. Give them a chance and don’t interrupt them once they respond. A tip often shared is counting to five before speaking your mind or butting into a conversation.

I’ve never met anyone who is an effective and thoughtful listener who is considered a bad conversationalist.  Talk can be cheap. You can always give someone your two cents. Effective listening can be priceless because you give people your full attention.

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Suggested reading: Forbes 8/20.2014    Inc 8/27/2015


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