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Probably the most effective way to improve communication is to begin listening wisely. Many people think good communication is about learning to speak better, or getting their message across clearly, or transmitting their ideas well, and so on. They are correct; however, sometimes they forget a powerful secret to effective communication: listening. So few people have truly been listened to, and when they are listened to, they are much more likely to listen to you in return. So this week, when anyone tries to
communicate with you, stop whatever you are doing and give the speaker your full attention. If you have something in your hands, put it down and pause. Practice giving your undivided attention to the person talking with you as best as you can and let them finish without interruption. You will be amazed at the power of this simple practice and those you listen to will appreciate the opportunity to be properly heard.
Many people aren't truly listening when someone is talking to them. Instead, they are preparing what they are going to say in return. Try confirming what you think you've just heard when someone talks to you. So this week when someone speaks to you, listen attentively and when they are done you can try repeating back to them the key ideas you got from what they said. Follow up by asking if you understood correctly. Not only does this convey that you are interested in what they are saying, it also gives the speaker an opportunity to make adjustments to what you understood, or even correct something that was said. This simple practice will turn you into a powerful communicator in other people's estimation because they will have the feeling of being understood.
This may come as a surprise to someone who wants to learn how to communicate better because I am going to suggest that you practice saying as little as possible over the next week. My suggestion is that you give as much time as possible to those around you to say what they want. You will be astounded by how much you will understand the people around you better by noticing what they think value and decide. This will equip you to communicate in a powerful and clear way because you will be wiser from having observed. Someone once said that the less he spoke, the wiser he appeared to be.
Understanding people is the key to excellent communication.
Edward Viljoen is co-author (with Chris Michaels) of Spirit is Calling, The Prosperous Life Journal, and Practice the Presence, interactive journals available from Stepping Stones Bookstore. He is co-author (with Joyce Duffala) of Seeing Good At Work also available at http://steppingstonesbookstore.org/index.cgi/kw=viljoen