When it comes to being an effective communicator at home or on the job, the most important skill you need is to be a good listener.

All the polished presentation techniques, in company with an incredible vocabulary, impeccable grammar and flawless syntax won’t make a bit of difference if you don’t know how to listen.

Stephen Covey, author the best-selling classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, taught that there were five levels of listening:

  • ignoring,
  • pretending,
  • selective listening,
  • attentive listening, and
  • empathic listening.

Although all five are very common practices, only the last two qualify as effective types of listening. But the list helps clarify why truly effective listening is so hard. It requires humility and a focus on someone and something other than yourself and your own needs.

Now Ken Blanchard, co-author of the best-sellers The One Minute Manager and The New One Minute Manager and a co-founder of the Lead Like Jesus Movement, has six suggestions to help make you a better listener.

Here’s the bullet list:

  • Resist the Temptation to Jump In.
  • Pay Attention to Body Language.
  • Ask Questions. 
  • Reflect Feelings. 
  • Paraphrase.
  • Summarize.

“These practices are not easy—they require time and effort to master,” says Blanchard. But once you do master them, you’ll build more satisfying relationships.”


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