Are You Listening 2


Are You Listening?

The Body Language Advantage
Good listening demands that we not only understand what is said but what is truly meant behind the words spoken. Skilled listeners must be sensitive to non-verbal signals. Studies indicate that we communicate 7% with words, 38% through tone of voice and 55% with facial expressions, posture and gestures.

This isn’t surprising, when we consider that body language has a 50,000-year evolutionary jump on the spoken word. Added to that, virtually every normal person learns non-verbal communication long before speech. As an embryo in our mother’s womb, we are sensitive to her moods. Then, as babies, we learn to make our needs known through crying and facial expression as well as arm and leg gestures. It is only much later in our development that communication takes place with words. Since non-verbal communication is learned in an intimate fashion and at an earlier age than words, it makes sense that we all are normally more attuned to this style of communication.

Crafting Your Response
Very few of us really listen to others. Usually, we are far too busy thinking about what gem we are going to say next. It has, unfortunately, become common today for conversation to be nothing more than the practice of two people simply taking turns talking. A University of Minnesota researcher first pointed out this tendency. Tom Peters in Thriving on Chaos gave us the best advice on this subject: “Shut up. Shut up. You are here to listen.”

Active Listening Reduces Stress
Good listeners are generally people oriented, because listening is our finest way of expressing concern. The value, interest and commitment you place in a person are demonstrated by actively, empathetically and attentively listening.

An AT&T study dramatically demonstrated the importance of listening. They studied a group of middle- and upper-level executives as the company was preparing for divestiture to assess how the changes occurring within the organization affected them. The executives most able to handle the stress were those who received strong support from their bosses.

It was additionally revealed that married men adapted more successfully than single men (and we’re sure this would hold true for woman as well!). Why? It seems that married men went home to their wives, where they shared work concerns and fears, while single men had no similar communication vehicle in place. Of additional significance to us is that, when wives not only listened empathetically but also then pointed their husbands towards positive action, these men adapted to change even better than husbands whose wives simply listened.

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