Listening may be the most difficult skill to master when communicating effectively. But master it, we can!

The non verbal part of communicating is the most telling. Try this for a fact:

Research has shown that only 7 percent of what we take in from a speaker is from the actual words; the rest is non-verbal. The tone of voice of the speaker accounts for 38 percent of the message received. Over 55 percent of our perception of the message comes from the speaker’s body language.

This would mean how something is said is far more important than the actual words. This also means to be a really effective listener, one must “listen” to the non-verbals as well. This means being tuned in to what is being said and what is not being said.

Which brings this discussion to a really important part of listening: asking questions. It is not enough to assume you know what the person means. Non-verbals can lead you to “hear” something that is not being said. Asking questions deepens the discussion and explores more of what the person means.

Some useful questions are:

 “Can you give an example of this?”

 “Tell me more about that…”

A good listener should be making eye contact with the speaker about 60 to 80 percent of the time, at least in Western cultures. Nodding and shaking the head is usually appropriate to indicate receptiveness and understanding. Of course, it also indicates agreement or disagreement and can therefore interrupt the speaker

Rarely do people take the time to reflect on the quality of their listening skills. In fact, the only time we may become aware of them is when there has been a breakdown in communications, but by then we are in defensive mode instead of learning mode.

How well do you listen? When was the last time you asked your spouse, your boss, or a trusted peer for feedback on your communication skills? For most of us, this is far too risky.

Talking with your personal coach can help you practice active listening and is a safe way to improve without risk.

Let me know how you work on effective listening as you move to effect positive change.

To your continued success,

Coach Nancy