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What Does It Mean To Really Listen

In my upcoming book (hopefully to be available this fall) I explore the importance of Soft Skills development.  Two of these skills are verbal and non-verbal communications: its nature of being a “two way street,” the need for both a sender and a receiver in order for the communication to be anything other than mere noise. Some have suggested that listening is more important than talking for effective communication. You’ve probably heard the old adage, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak”. The symbolism is obvious.

In this week’s video blog post I talk about my personal experience with finally getting the importance of actually listening.


Listening is more than just hearing the words someone speaks. It is a total way of receiving verbal and nonverbal messages, processing them, and communicating that understanding back to the speaker. Many of us listen in order to respond – we are formulating our next message while the other is still talking. We should instead listen to understand – to fully take in, process, and comprehend the message that is being sent. We communicate from our own perspective, the reality in which we live, our understanding of our own world. So ask questions to clarify the speaker’s meaning. Reframe what they have said in your own words, to see if you get agreement on their intended message. By doing this you learn to seek their perspective and reality, rather than defaulting to your own.

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