There is a big difference between what we hear and what we actually listen to. The average person only retains 25 to 50 percent of what they hear, according to Mind Tools. This means over half of what you’re saying and hearing isn’t resonating.
Active listening is crucial for those in business. Improved listening skills allow you to communicate more effectively with clients, and they help you receive valuable information. In turn, you’ll have deeper relationships and stronger insight for negotiations.
So how do you learn to listen actively? You practice. These tips will help you get started:
- Pay attention: Push aside distracting thoughts so you can focus on what the speaker is saying. Practice this with mental playback: Repeat what the speaker is saying in your head.
- Provide feedback: Show the speaker that you’re listening with occasional verbal affirmations, such as “yes,” “oh,” or “okay.”
- Tune out your inner voice: Resist the urge to mentally formulate a response instead of listening. If you’re busy organizing your own thoughts you won’t be able to fully absorb the message.
- Note body language: People will often use gestures and body language to emphasize crucial information.
- Ask questions: Avoid misunderstanding by asking for clarification about unclear information or summarizing what you believe you have heard.
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