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Listening is the communication activity people engage most often during the course of a day. A Harvard study of Fortune 500 CEOs reveals that CEOs spend 84% of their time listening to other people.
The most important person in an organization is often the person most people want to talk to first when something happens. How can one turn hearing into listening? People filter out what they do not want to hear, and listen to the things they do want to hear.
Listening should not be a passive activity, but one in which the listener is an active participant. A good listener provides the speaker with feedback. Messages that listeners send to speakers keep the lines of communication open.
To make communication effective, tune out distractions; be attentive to the speaker; take notes only after listening first; and let the situation determine what information to be listening for. Listen for emotion and emphasis.
A listener's attending skills include an open posture and eye contact. Start out with the assumption that everyone has something valuable to say. Reflect back through questions, and be honest about missing something the speaker said.
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