Effective Communication ~ Part 3

In this 3rd piece on communication we focus on the listening aspect of communicating. Listening is a skill that takes time to learn. Most people speak between 125-200 words per minute but the mind can listen at approximately 800 words per minute. If you look at that number it is easy to see why your mind might wander when someone is talking to you.  Another interesting statistic I came across was one that said that people change 75-80% of what you say into what they want to hear. That one statistic cleared up a lot for me…I was always wondering why someone would come to me and say “So and So said you said we could __________” and it was nothing remotely like what I thought I said and now I know why…they heard what they wanted to hear and not what I was really saying!

5. Listening skills. If we measured importance by the time we spend on an activity, then listening would be our most important activity, as it occupies more time than any other communication activity. However, many people are poor listeners, even in everyday life. They tend to listen and think about something else at the same time, rather than carefully paying attention to what the other person has said. In fact, instead of actually hearing the speaker, many people are actually thinking about their response while the other person is talking.

Good listening is normally hard work. The following are attributes of good listening. Mastering these skills will help you to be a more effective listener and will bring you more success in your work.

Concentration. Focus your attention on the words, ideas and feelings related to the subject. Concentrate on the main ideas or points. Don’t be distracted. If you are too distracted by another issue or something around you, either change the location of the conversation, or ask the speaker if you can continue the conversation at another time when you can focus on what they have to say.

Eye contact. Good eye contact is essential. Our eye contact with the speaker is feedback concerning the message: Yes, I am listening. I am paying attention. I hear you. If you are not making eye contact, the speaker will probably assume you are not listening.

Receptive Body Language. Certain body postures and movements are culturally interpreted with specific meanings. The crossing of arms and legs is perceived to mean a closing of the mind and attention. The nodding of the head vertically is interpreted as agreement or assent.

Restating the message. Restating the message as part of the feedback can enhance the effectiveness of good communications. A comment such as: “I want to make sure that I have fully understood your message….” and then paraphrase in your own words the message. If the communication is not clear, giving feedback will allow for immediate clarification. It is important that you state the message as clearly and objectively as possible.

Questioning/Clarifying. Questions can serve the same purpose as restating the message. If you are unclear about the intent of the message, ask for more information.
Pauses. A pause at some points in the feedback can be used to signal that you are carefully considering the message and you are “thinking” about what was just said..

Don’t Interject. There is a great temptation at many times for the listener to jump into the conversation while the speaker has not finished their words. Don’t interject or interrupt unless it is completely necessary. Interruptions will frustrate the speaker and tell them that you think your words are more important than theirs.
Read the Speakers Non-Verbal Messages. Pay attention to what is not being said by the speaker. This will give you a large amount of information that will help you interpret their meaning. How is their posture? Are they making good eye contact, or avoiding your eyes? What is the tone of their voice? All of these things will help you decode the message that is being sent.

These 5 components are the keys to good communication. Most likely, you’ll naturally be good at some of them, and have to work at others. Many people who are good with their spoken words need to work on their written words, while others who are strong listeners struggle with their speaking skills. Knowing what your strengths and also the areas in which you need a little improvement will help you to further round out your ability when in communication with others.

In other parts of this series we will talk about effective communication in the form of a resume, interviewing, and networking. As a Career Coach I can and will help you communicate your skills and abilities to a prosepective employer. Your first impression might be your resume and when the employer sees it, they quickly determine what your work product might be like based on what you have sent. The next impression might be in the interview and you need to be able to communicate by body language that you are interested, have a good attitude, and get along well with others; you also need to articulate in spoken words the skills you have ‘in relation to’ the job for which you are applying.  It can seem like a maze when you are job searching and trying to find that ideal career but as my web site says…Let me be ‘A beacon to light your way’. www.careercreate.com

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