listening-157386_1280Think of your last conversation.  If you remember what you said more clearly than what you heard, you probably need to work on your listening skills.

Listening is a sign of respect.  It shows that you value what the speaker has to say.  If you take the time to listen to someone, take the time to listen properly.  Set aside what you are doing so you can focus on the speaker, showing them that they are important to you.  This will encourage the speaker to crystallize his message instead of giving you a shortened and vague version.  If you continue to focus on your work, you may miss key gestures or facial expressions that may indicate the speaker’s true feelings differ from his words.

It’s not always easy to focus on what a speaker is trying to say, especially if he has distracting idiosyncrasies.  Be sure not to focus on the manner in which the information is being given, or else you may find it difficult to follow the whole message.  Instead of allowing your mind to wander due to the speaker’s mannerisms (such as slow progress or distracting “fillers”), try summarizing what has been said.  This will allow your brain to think at its normal speed without straying from the message or focusing on your reply before the speaker is finished relaying information. Avoid interrupting, as it gives the impression that you value your own thoughts above the speaker’s.  If you have the habit of interrupting, apologize out loud every time, and you will soon find yourself more apt to stave off the impulse.

If any part of the message is unclear, ask for clarification.  Even in interviews, questions are highly valued.  They show the speaker that you want to be sure you understand properly so you don’t jump to conclusions without fully grasping the information.

Remember, if you don’t have the time to listen properly, set up an appropriate time with the speaker when you can devote the attention they deserve.