April 2000 - The Art of Listening
- The Art of Listening
- Focus on the Caller
- Good Listening Skills
- Poor Listening Skills
- Internet Resources (books,
Art of Listening
By Terry Wildemann
Listening is an art that when done well delivers tremendous benefits.
The goal of listening well is to achieve win-win communication.
Win-win communication not only fosters understanding, affirmation,
validation and appreciation, but it also creates an atmosphere of trust,
honor and respect. When someone truly listens to you, don't you feel
Listening well is a two-way street, and to be effective
communicators, we must all listen well to each other. One-way listening
can be equated to driving down a one-way street the wrong way. It's
dangerous, it can get you into trouble and it can be expensive, as
illustrated in the following example.
Sam, a dispatcher for a national moving company in Philadelphia,
gave Mike, a new driver, an assignment to go to Portsmouth to make a
household goods delivery.
When Mike arrived in Portsmouth, he called Sam for further
instructions. As Sam gave Mike the necessary information, Mike got a
strange feeling that something wasn't quite right.
Mike asked Sam for the complete address, which was Maple Street in
Portsmouth, Virginia. Well, Mike was in Portsmouth, but it was
Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Mike was ten hours away from where he was
supposed to be. He had traveled north in the wrong direction.
Not only did this cost the company time and money, but also the
owner of the goods was not pleased.
What caused this expensive mistake? Ineffective listening by both
parties. In his haste, Mike didn't listen to all the information that
Sam gave him, and Sam neglected to get accurate acknowledgment from
Mike stating that he understood the instructions.
Listening well is a skill that requires practice.
- Someone who listens well easily establishes rapport with
- Good listeners attract others because they focus on the speaker
- They have a positive energy that makes you want to be in their
- They are effective in their jobs because, by listening and asking
the appropriate questions, they know exactly what needs to be done
and how to do it.
To be effective when interacting over the telephone, hone your verbal
skills and focus completely on what the speaker is saying.
Listen closely to your intuition. The best example of this is to
observe how blind people communicate. Since they do not have the gift of
sight, they focus on their other gifts and develop them. Their hearing
is acute, and they can people read by focusing on a person's
voice attitude and the words that the person uses.
Those of us whose work depends on the telephone should do the
A good listener, both on the telephone and in person, will:
- Always be prepared to take notes when necessary. That means having
writing tools readily available.
- Repeat the information he or she heard by saying, I hear you
saying ... Is that correct? If the speaker does not agree,
repeat the process to ensure understanding.
- Remain curious and ask questions to determine if he or she is
accurately understanding the speaker.
- Want to listen to the information being delivered.
- Be physically and mentally present in the moment.
- Listen by using the ears to hear the message, the eyes
to read body language (when listening in person), the
mind to visualize the person speaking (when on the telephone), and
intuition to determine what the speaker is actually saying.
- Establish rapport by following the leader.
- Match the momentum, tone of voice, body language, and words
used by the speaker.
- Please use common sense when matching. If the speaker is
yelling, don't do the same because it will make a bad situation
A poor listener, both on the telephone and in person:
- May be abrupt and/or give one-word answers such as no, yes, and maybe.
- Will be easily distracted.
- In person, the listener may look around the room as opposed to
focusing on the speaker's face.
- Over the telephone, the listener may be opening mail, reading
e-mail, filing, playing with hair, a pencil or a tie — anything
that preempts focusing on the caller.
- Constantly interrupts, making the speaker feel that what he or she
has to say is not important.
- The listener finishes the other person's sentences, implying that
the listener already knows what the speaker is about to say.
- Changes the subject without even realizing it.
- Looks at his watch, signaling that you are wasting his time.
Remember that effective listening can open many doors. If you listen
with your eyes, your ears and your mind, you will always get the
information you need.
Copyright and Acknowledgement
© Terry Wildemann, CCSE, CPBA, Performance Consultant, Reiki Master, Image Plus...® Associates Professional Development
Institute. Phone: 1-800-Courtesy; Web: http://www.CustomerCourtesy.com
E-mail: Success [at] Image-Plus.com
Article excerpted from Connecting With a Winning Telephone
Image (October 1998, Aegis Publishing) Tel: 401-847-9291 Fax: 401-846-0678
Article used by permission of author. Thanks, Terry!
- 1-800-Courtesy: Connecting With a Winning Telephone Image. Terry
Aegis Pub Group; (December 1998) ISBN: 1890154075
Tel: (401) 847-9291
E-mail: Success [at] Image-Plus.com.
- Genderspeak: Men, Women, and the Gentle Art of Verbal SelfDefense.
Suzette Haden Elgin, Ph.D. John Wiley & Sons Inc., 605 Third
Avenue, New York, NY 101580012. 1993. Suzette Elgin has
written several books on communication. ISBN: 0471580163
Newsletter Topic: Improving Verbal Skills, August
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