Dale Carnegie was once quoted as saying, â€śYou can make more friends in two months by becoming interested i n other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.â€ť
But what does it take to become interested in other people? Listening to what they have to say would seem to be the logical answer, but when people speak to you, do you merely hear them, or do you truly listen?
Effective listening is a difficult skill to master for many people. It is challenging, in part, because our natur al tendency is to focus more on what weâ€™re saying rather than what weâ€™re hearing in return. Also, since listening seems to occur naturally, we donâ€™t put a lot of effort into it. However, developing interpersonal relationships is what comes from effective listening according to the Dale Carnegie Course: â€śEffective Communications & Human Relations/Skills For Success.â€ť
The following techniques represent action steps you can put to work in your life today that will immediately start you on the road to being a better listener:
- When speaking to others give them your full attention â€” Make a conscious effort to focus on the other personâ€™s words. Read their facial expressions and ask questions when you need something clarified. The more interactive you are in the conversation the more of it youâ€™ll retain.
- Non-verbally convey that you are listening â€” When someone is talking to you, maintain eye contact with that person. Lean slightly forward to demonstrate your interest. Donâ€™t fiddle with your hands or shuffle back and forth.
- Avoid early interruptions â€” When listening to someone, do you often jump to conclusions about what the speaker is saying? Do you attempt to finish sentences for them? An early interruption lends itself to making evaluations too quickly. This is especially true when listening to a person with whom you disagree.
- Donâ€™t take it personally â€” Sometimes we take what another person says personally when it was no t meant to be personal. Careful listening doesnâ€™t mean that youâ€™ll always agree with the other party’s point of view, but it does mean that youâ€™ll try to listen without becoming overly defensive. Rememberâ€”your role is that of a listener, not one of convincing others they are wrong. After listening to a position to which you disagree, simply respond with something like, “I understand your point. We just disagree on this one.”