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Hearing is a gift. Listening is a skill.

Listening is naturally difficult for everyone because human beings possess the ability to process information up to three times faster than someone else can speak. This means that it is quite natural for us to be listening to someone and thinking about something else at the same time.

One of the most important things you can do in developing strong relationships with others is to be a good listener. Genuinely listening to someone shows them that you truly value them. This validates them as a person.

“One of the greatest gifts you can give anyone is the gift of attention.”- Jim Rohn, Author & Speaker

In my seminars with corporate leaders I spend hours on this topic because it is one of the most important things any person in leadership can learn. By the way, we are all leading someone whether we know it or not. Perhaps we are a parent who is at home with a child…we are leading…if we are a coach of a sports team…we are leading…virtually everyone is in some position of leadership at some point in life whether they know it or not.

Whether you are building a business, or developing a friendship, or spending time with your family, listening is the key to building unbreakable bonds. Author Brian Tracy says ” Listening builds trust, the foundation of all lasting relationships.” People will not hold you in any regard until they know that you care about them. Listening demonstrates this.

Many of you know that I am a naturally shy person. The development of this skill helped me to overcome my shyness.

Here are a few (of many) tips to improve your listening:

  • Focus only on the other person and what they are saying and how they are saying it: Maintain eye contact and forget about what you want to say as they are speaking.
  • Do not allow distractions to divert your attention: If someone comes into the room don’t look to see who it is. If your cell phone rings don’t look to see who it is.
  • Don’t check the time. Don’t do anything that might allow this person to think that you would rather be doing anything else at this moment.
  • Do not interrupt: This is a sign to the other person that you don’t value what they are saying.

I could list another 20 things that are good to do, but these three are great starts to becoming a good listener. Here’s the bottom line: When your child or friend or business partner or prospect or spouse or anyone else is talking to you, treat that moment as if there is nothing more important in the world at this moment.

Because the truth is there are short list of things that are more important than investing in another person.

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