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"We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak." - Epictetus
Keeping your eyes and ears open and your mouth closed: keys to effective listening.
Are you a good listener? I am sure most of you said an emphatic YES! But the truth of the matter is only a small percentage of you actually are. True listening is a learned skill. Are there natural communicators? Absolutely, a small percentage of us instinctively recognize the rewards of listening and do so wholeheartedly. The rest of us? Well, we are mostly just paying enough attention to be able to put our thoughts (ya know, what really matters to us) together for the comeback remark.
Most people do not recognize that they are fighting for airtime. We all love to hear ourselves talk and usually don’t care much what the other has to say unless it involves US!
Over the next few weeks I will be delving into effective listening - I hope during this period you will be printing out these e-mails and keeping them for reference.
What are the components of effective listening? Effective listening means you are listening with your ears and with your eyes to all three components of the speaker’s message: words, tones and body language/nonverbal communication. We all know how to do this. We auditorily listen to the words spoken by the conversant and process thoughts accordingly. We then auditorily listen to the different pitch, volume, tone and rhythm of the words spoken and determine if there is perhaps a hidden message behind the words. Finally, we visually listen with our eyes and decide if what their body is telling us is congruent with their words, tones, pitch, rhythm and volume.
For instance - suppose someone looks you in the face smiling and emphatically states "What a great day". You would tend to believe them. Words + tone+body language = congruency. However, suppose you hear a sarcastic "what a great day" accompanied by folded arms and an rolling of the eyes. What do you suppose happens? The body language and tone overrides the words and you automatically recognize the mixed message. Which piece of the message are we more likely to believe - the words or the body language? If you said body language you are correct.
Body language is primal to us. It is instinctive. There is much debate as to when humans actually began talking but what we do know was that before there was spoken language there was gestures. Gestures and grunts were our main mode of communication and our ability to read nonverbal communication is greatly overlooked.
Often, an individual will communicate their message nonverbally in order to save face or avoid a direct confrontation. So what is our first lesson? In order to fully "listen" and understand a conversant’s message it is mandatory to tune into the verbals and nonverbals of their message. This means watching their body language (if possible) and listening for the pitch, rate, tone, volume and rhythm of their words. This is the process we must go through each time we receive a message in order to correctly decode and interpret the content.
The brand new program "Decoding Body Language" based on the "Can you hear your body talking" Seminar will be released in a few weeks. Be sure to check back if you would like to learn how to read body language easily and effectively. click here for information
Body Language Expert