Two Ears and Only One Mouth: How Well Do You Listen?

It has been said that there is a reason that God gave us two ears and only
one mouth. Listening is such a crucial activity yet we devote so little effort
to doing it well. It is essential for building healthy relationships and
successful partnerships. Here are some important facts and techniques that can
help improve your listening and interpersonal skills.

We spend 80 percent of our waking time involved in four communications tasks:
reading, writing, speaking or listening.

Of these four activities, listening accounts for 50 percent of our communication
time. We give little attention to this part of the communication process, simply
taking it for granted that everyone knows how to listen. Listening is such a
passive activity, we don’t pay attention to it. In fact, most of us find the
prolonged concentration required for truly effective listening too hard to

Consider this: We only retain 25 percent of what we hear. Why?

The average person speaks at about 130 words per minute. Our thinking speed is
about 500 words per minute. Consequently, we jump ahead of what is actually
being said. This causes our minds to wander and we are actually thinking about
other things, such as what we are going to say next.

While everybody “knows” how to listen, not everybody practices the following
effective listening techniques which can rapidly improve communications,
strengthen relationships and form strong interpersonal skills for work and
family success.

Rarely do people take the time to reflect on the quality of their listening
skills. In fact, the only time we may become aware of them is when there has
been a breakdown in communications, and by then we are in defensive mode instead
of learning mode.

How well do you listen?

When was the last time you asked your spouse, your boss, or a trusted peer for
feedback on your communication skills? For most of us, this is far too risky.
Talking with your personal life coach can help you practice active listening and
is a safe way to improve without risk.

This is a synopsis of a larger article which includes the following concepts:

Five factors that interfere with good listening
Essential keys to effective listening
”Listening” to non-verbal communications
Four important questions to ask
9 Action steps to good listening
Suggestions for working with your life coach

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