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Manners: Good Listening Skills

My Friend DebbieLike all communication, conversation is a two-way street: one person talks and the other person listens. Conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue.

As it's been said, we have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we speak!

The Bible says: "My dear brothers, take note of this, everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" James 1:19 (NIV).

Listening skills are critical to human relationships. When we are listened to, we feel understood; when we feel understood, we feel loved. The better we develop our ability to listen well, the better our conversations with others will be.

Conversation is like a game of volleyball. One person serves and the other person sends it back over the net. If the ball hits the ground, then you must start over. Similarly, if someone starts a conversation with you by asking a question or making a comment, then you should respond kindly. Don't just let the "ball" drop! That's not a very enjoyable conversation!

In order to have good conversational skills, you must practice developing your listening skills and take a genuine interest in those around you. You'll be surprised how much you can learn.

Too many people think, "What will I say next?" rather than, "What did she say?" Remember, when you listen, you make a conscious effort to hear, to understand, and to interpret the information offered.

To fine tune your listening abilities, practice the following skills:

  1. Get ready to listen, physically and mentally. Sit up, focus your eyes and attention on the person speaking. Practice listening with not only your ears but your heart! You&339;ll be amazed at what you hear!
  2. Concentrate on the speaker as a source of ideas and information.
  3. Let him or her know you value the ideas and information.
  4. Forget about "What will I say next?" or "When is it my turn?"
  5. Give the speaker positive feedback. Nod your head; offer an occasional word of affirmation like "yes," "really," "wow" to let the speaker know you are alive and interested. Otherwise, you will come across as cold, intimidating, bored or disinterested.
  6. Avoid interrupting, except with a well-phrased and a well-placed question that is relevant and helps you better understand, not challenge, the speaker.
  7. Encourage the speaker to continue by thinking about and giving consideration to what he or she is saying.
  8. Paraphrase and summarize ideas and or information.
  9. Acknowledge and interpret your perceptions. Be discerning without being judgmental.
  10. Double check that the conclusion received is the same one that was sent, especially in an emotional situation. What you hear may not always be what was said. Be certain that the message you received is the one that was sent. Don't assume you understand without making sure.
When you value others and what they have to say, people will want you around. When you allow people to talk about themselves, their families, lives, stories and experiences, you will indeed make a friend and show the kindest of manners.

Copyright © 2008-2015 Debbie Reynolds Harper

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