Active Listening Aids Negotiators and Mediators

How often we hear, but do not listen. While another is speaking, we are formulating a response or thinking about all manner of extraneous items, problems and affairs. We believe perhaps that we know or have already heard what the speaker is saying, but do not bother to verify whether our assumptions are true. Communications break down in part because we do not really listen, actively listen. This active listening study guide puts it this way:

"Active listening intentionally focuses on who you are listening to, whether in a group or one-on-one, in order to understand what he or she is saying. As the listener, you should then be able to repeat back in your own words what they have said to their satisfaction. This does not mean you agree with, but rather understand, what they are saying."

Much more on this topic is available from this mindtools site that suggests:

"1. Start by Understanding Your Own Communication Style...
By becoming more aware of how others perceive you, you can adapt more readily to their styles of communicating...you can make another person more comfortable with you by selecting and emphasizing certain behaviors that fit within your personality and resonate with another. In doing this, you will prepare yourself to become an active listener.

2. Be An Active Listener
...which involves listening with a purpose. It may be to gain information, obtain directions, understand others, solve problems, share interest, see how another person feels, show support, etc. If you're finding it particularly difficult to concentrate on what someone is saying, try repeating their words mentally as they say it - this will reinforce their message and help you control mind drift.

3. Use Nonverbal Communication
...Nonverbal communication is facial expressions like smiles, gestures, eye contact, and even your posture. This shows the person you are communicating with that you are indeed listening actively and will prompt further communications...

4. Give Feedback
...Restate what you think you heard and ask, "Have I understood you correctly?"...Feedback is a verbal communications means used to clearly demonstrate you are actively listening and to confirm the communications between you and others. Obviously, this serves to further ensure the communications are understood and is a great tool to use to verify everything you heard while actively listening..."

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