A Case for 2 Ears, 1 Mouth—How active is your listening?

Tammy Y. Allen, The NIIC, Fort Wayne, Ind

We can all use a reminder from time-to-time about the importance of soft skills, also sometimes called professional or transferable skills. My reminder about active listening skills came through a recent workshop I attended.

Active listening can be an exhaustive skill, yet, one that is especially valuable. It can positively set you apart in this ever-connected world. It is a skill that many, including myself, find challenging in this busy, wired world.

Where do you start? Following are four tips that will help you connect on a deeper level, through active listening.

  1. Hear: Focus on the speaker. What is being said (e.g., actual words, voice tone)? Also watch for the non-verbal cues that add so much to the message (e.g., expressions, gestures).
  2. Interpret: Communication is a two-way street. Sometimes we fail at this very basic interaction. To build rapport, perhaps paraphrase what you think you heard to ensure agreement. Ask clarifying questions if needed.
  3. Evaluate: What is the overall meaning behind the message? What does this mean to you? Is it informational or require action?
  4. Respond: After hearing, interpreting and evaluating what you’ve heard, respond with an informed statement or question.

Like any skill, active listening needs to be honed over time. How might you work on active listening this week?

By the way, the workshop mentioned at the beginning of this blog was Mentoring—Making a BIG Difference, hosted at The NIIC and powered by Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center (WEOC) and SCORE Northeast Indiana. To learn more about our upcoming workshops, visit the events page of our website.

 Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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