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Listening Skills

Since we have been chatting about not so great ways to communicate, I wanted to be sure and share some tips for good communication.  Today lets talk about listening.

Listening?  Yes.  Listening is often the most difficult communication skill to master, and it communicates more than you may realize.

  • Did you know that by giving individuals your attention and time, you demonstrate respect for them which increases their trust of you?
  • Did you know that by demonstrating you are listening, you encourage the speaker to share more information–information that might otherwise have been omitted?
  • Did you know that by looking at the speaker rather than taking notes, you show that you are interested in what they have to say, which encourages them to share?
  • Did you know that by paying attention to what is said, you can better understand the questions that are being asked?

What This Means To You

Listening is not an easy skill to learn, so here is an activity you can try.  In your next conversation with someone:

  • Do not interrupt when he/she is speaking;
  • Look at him/her (unless this is culturally inappropriate);
  • Allow your body language to demonstrate interest, leaning towards the person with arms relaxed rather than away with arms crossed.
  • When they are done speaking, ask if there is anything else they think you should know about that topic.
  • Want more suggestions?  Try here: http://712educators.about.com/cs/activelistening/a/activelistening_2.htm

Have fun, and let me know how your experiment goes.

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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