There are many guidelines that will help you to become a more effective listener.
• Find an area of interest
Listen with a purpose. Be interested. Try to organize what you hear.
• Judge content, not delivery
Do not stop listening just because the speaker does not meet your expectations. Listen to the words & look for the message.
• Hold your fire
Do not get over-stimulated by the message. Do not react until the message is complete. Keep your emotions in check. Do not interrupt because you believe that what you have to say is more important or more correct. There will be time for you to respond later. The speaker may surprise you and wind up saying what you want to say.
• Listen to ideas
Focus on the person’s central ideas. Do not get bogged down by the unnecessary details. Try to listen at a higher level. Listen for new knowledge or concepts.
• Be flexible
Vary the ways in which you attempt to remember the information. Concentrate on finding the best way to retain the information.
• Work at listening
Establish and maintain eye contact. Acknowledge understanding. Stay tuned-in.
• Resist distractions
Concentrate on the speaker. Tune out other things that may be going on. Turn off the things you can control, like the TV or the radio. Try not to do several things at the same time.
• Exercise your mind
Challenge yourself to listen very attentively. Try it for a short time and then make it longer and longer. See if you can listen to an entire presentation without losing concentration.
• Keep your mind open
Communication efficiency drops to zero when we hear certain trigger words, such as Communist, Democrat, or Republican. Everyone has words that evoke an emotional response. Effective listeners are aware of keeping their convictions and emotions in check.
• Capitalize on thought speed
Most of us talk at the rate of 120 words a minute. Our thinking speed is about 500 words a minute. That gives us a lot of spare time while a person is speaking to us. Poor listeners let their minds wander.
LOOK at the person who is talking.
LISTEN and don’t interrupt.
ASK questions to find out more.
NOD, or say something to show you understand.
REPEAT what you heard in your own words.