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Effective Communication: Active Listening Can Make the Difference

August 29, 2013

Easy ways you can instantly improve your communication skills.

You are sitting at the dinner table enjoying a nice meal with your significant other. Somehow the conversation touches on a controversial subject. The discussion heats up to the point where your voices elevate, your calm tone turns into a passionate one and your significant other storms out of the room.

As you are sitting there contemplating cleaning the dirty dishes you realize that both of you were saying exactly the same thing – you were just communicating your message differently.

Effective communication runs through all aspects of our daily lives. From the minute you get up and feed the cat – who by the way, is very good at letting you know what she wants with non-verbal clues – the discussions at the coffee maker in the office – to the dinner with your significant other. It is critical that we understand how we communicate, and how others communicate with us.

Much has been written about this subject, yet we all still struggle with our daily communications. The first rule of communication is listening. Being an active listener can enhance any conversation and help you to understand another point of view. Although, a simple and surprisingly easy concept, active, attentive listening is not as easy as you would expect.

Below are some lessons that I have learned along the way that, hopefully, will work for you:

Be a Good Listener. Recognizing that you need listen more is the first step in being more attentive. You will instantly become more aware of when you’re listening and when you’re not.

Quiet your mind. Make an effort to stop thinking about your response, assessing, judging or problem solving when listening. This will make it easier for you to really hear what the other person is saying and you can take a few seconds to respond once the other person is finished speaking.

Focus on non-verbal communication too. Pay attention to a person’s tone and body language. These indicators can sometimes be more helpful when assessing a situation than what is actually being said.

Give affirmation you are listening. For example, smiling and nodding when appropriate lets someone know you are engaged.

Ask questions. Show that you are listening and that you care.

No matter how good a listener you may think you are, there is always room for improvement. Engaged listening can help you get from good to great both professionally and in your personal conversations. The most successful business people have mastered the art of communication, and you can too.

The KLR Women CPA’s Business Exchange Group reinforces the firm’s ongoing strategy to retain the best and brightest talent in the industry and connects successful women business leaders. As one of the largest accounting firms in New England, KLR recognizes that a commitment to women is a commitment to excellence. Professionals in this group have experience in tax, audit, wealth management, executive recruiting, business valuation and consulting in a variety of industries.

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