“The 10 Principles of Listening” with credit given to David Aaker, www.skillsyouneed.com, Adler R Rosenfeld and L. Proctor
1. Stop Talking – Don’t talk, listen. When somebody else is talking listen to what they are saying, do not interrupt, talk over them or finish their sentences for them.
2. Prepare Yourself to Listen – Relax, and focus on the speaker. Put other things out of mind. We are easily distracted by other thoughts, what’s for lunch, is it going to rain etc. Put other thoughts out of mind and concentrate on the messages that are being communicated.
3. Put the Speaker at Ease – Help the speaker to feel free to speak. Remember their needs and concerns. Encourage them to speak, and make eye contact.
4. Remove Distractions – Focus on what is being said. Don’t doodle, shuffle papers, and look out the window. These behaviors disrupt the listening process and send messages to the speaker that you are bored or distracted.
5. Empathize – Try to understand the other person’s point of view. Look at issues from their perspective. Let go of preconceived ideas. Keep an open mind to the views and opinions of others.
6. Be Patient – A pause, even a long pause, does not necessarily mean that the speaker has finished. Never interrupt or finish a sentence for someone.
7. Avoid Personal Prejudice – Try to be impartial. Everybody has a different way of speaking- some people are for example more nervous or shy than others, some have regional accents or make excessive arm movements, some people like to pace while talking. Focus on what is being said and try to ignore styles of delivery.
8. Listen to the Tone – Volume and tone both add to what someone is saying. A good speaker will use both volume and tone to their advantage to keep an audience attentive and help you understand the emphasis of what is being said.
9. Listen for Ideas – Not Just Words – You need to get the whole picture, not just isolated bits and pieces. Maybe one of the most difficult aspects of listening is the ability to link together pieces of information to reveal the ideas of others. With proper concentration, letting go of distractions, and focus this becomes easier.
10. Wait and Watch for Non-Verbal Communication – Gestures, facial expressions and eye-movements can all be important. We don’t just listen with our ears, but also with our eyes – watch and pick up the additional information being transmitted via non-verbal communications.