Listening … The skill that can transform relationships!

This is the ninth in a series of articles that conference attendees will receive to reinforce what they learned at Soar Higher 2005.

To read the first article by Kristine Sexter, click here.
To read the second article by Bob Oros, click here.
To read the third article by Ron Meyers, click here.
To read the fourth article by Darren LaCroix, click here.
To read the fifth article by Carrie Perrien Smith, click here.
To read the sixth article by Mary Pryor, click here.
To read the seventh article by Tom Bach, click here.
To read the eighth article by Willie Johnson, click here.
On November 16, Walt Pavlo was featured in USA Today. To see the article,  click here.
Visit our conference highlights page by clicking here.

Kerry Robertson

Kerry Robertson’s unique experience as a television news anchor and talk show host combined with her background as an award-winning educator distinguishes her as a leader in her field. Kerry’s high energy and contagious enthusiasm are trademarks that make her a favorite with her clients who range from Olympic champions and CEOs to leading government agencies and  universities.

Contact Soar with Eagles for more information on Kerry at 479.903.0208 or


  Listening well to others is one of the most powerful communication skills you can develop. Listening is a powerful “human moment” between two people that requires mental energy, discipline, and focus. When you are really paying attention to what the other person is saying and feeling, they will feel the energy and respond. Together the two of you create a powerful “force field” of communication.

Unfortunately, the power of effective listening and how it effects good communication is highly underestimated. Just because you were born with two ears and the ability to hear, doesn’t mean you are automatically a good listener. Listening is not instinctive. You were born with hands but that doesn’t mean you can play the piano. You were born with feet but that doesn’t mean you can tap dance. Playing the piano and tap dancing are learned skills. To develop these skills, you must learn specific techniques and then practice them until you develop a certain level of skill. It’s the same with listening. To be an effective listener, you have to commit to being a good listener and then practice, practice, practice.

It’s important to remember that we all have a deep desire to be acknowledged and validated by others. We need to feel that we are being HEARD and to know that others care enough to listen to what we have to say. We need to know that our words are valued.

There are many benefits to being a good listener. First of all, effective listening decreases the chances of miscommunication. It improves communication and consequently decreases tension and stress. It encourages mutual respect, cooperation, support, and teamwork. It is also a powerful confrontation reduction skill. Effective listening allows real issues to surface.

If you master the skill of listening, you have mastered the powerful core of communication, connection and caring that can literally transform conversations and relationships.

So, how good of a listener are you? Do you interrupt others before they’re finished speaking? Do you multi-task while others are talking to you? Could you improve your communication with others by improving how you listen to them? If so, here are three simple steps that can help you become an effective listener. Note that I said simple, not easy. Good listening habits take energy, commitment, and practice, practice, practice!

Step #1 STOP

  • Stop what you’re doing and face the person talking to you. Stop working on the computer, watching television, or reading the paper. Give the person the gift of your undivided attention.
  • Stop what you’re thinking and concentrate. Be attentive. Put your own ideas aside so you can listen more attentively.
  • Stop any distractions and eliminate listening barriers, such as the TV, loud noises, other people talking, office interruptions like the phone, and people walking into your office.

Step #2 LOOK

  • Look at the person who is talking to you! Make eye contact. It is the glue of communication. Eye contact helps you connect and focus on what the other person is saying. Don’t let your eyes wander. Your attentiveness will send the signal that you’re really interested in what the other person has to say. Even if you aren’t interested, this simple courtesy goes a long way towards building and maintaining good relationships.
  • Look at facial expressions. Become an observer of what the other person’s face is telling you. These non-verbal signals contain volumes of information IF you’re looking at them and paying attention. Observing facial expressions will help you read the true feelings and emotions behind the words. What is really being said?
  • Look at body language. Again, observe all of the non-verbal clues being sent your way by others. How are they standing, holding their arms, hands, etc.? Does their body language tell you they’re nervous, confident, worried, impatient, interested, open-minded, or defensive? Look and you will learn!

Steps #3 LISTEN

  • Listen twice as much as you speak and don’t interrupt! Do you have a tendency to do all of the talking and very little listening? Do you interrupt others before they finish a thought? If you answer yes to these questions, you need to be aware of the negative signals you’re sending to other people. Interrupting others while they’re talking is a definite sign of poor listening skills. Whether you like it or not, interrupting is considered by many people to be just plain rude and inconsiderate. If you dominate conversations, you may appear to be lecturing, self-centered, controlling, or simply uninterested in what anyone else has to say. Good communication is not a one-way street. It is an exchange of messages and feedback that flow back and forth between people. It is not a monologue or lecture. In other words, zip your lip and listen! You’ll be amazed at what you really hear. While listening, be sure to provide non-verbal or verbal feedback to reflect your attentiveness and level of understanding. Feedback can be a simple nod, smile, grunt or groan, or a simple phrase such as “I see,” “really,” “then what.” Feedback shows interest and pushes the conversation forward.
  • Listen with an open mind (easier said that done) and open body language. Don’t judge content while you’re listening to others. This is a sure way to miss information that might be valuable to you. Remember that even dull, boring messages can be meaningful. To express interest, lean towards the person who is speaking. To show that you’re open-minded, keep arms open and unfolded.
  • Listen between the lines and with all of your senses. In other words, give others your “undivided” attention. Focus totally on the other person’s words and underlying messages. Pay attention to the tone of voice being used. It’s not always what we say but how we say it that expresses our true feelings.

One last thing: It’s important to remember that every time you talk or listen to another person, you have the opportunity to either build or tear down that relationship by the words you choose, your tone of voice, and your actions. AND … actions most certainly include the actions you take when listening to others!



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