Break These Bad Listening Habits

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“Hearing without listening happens all the time in business relationships,” says Joe Takash, author of Results Through Relationships. “And we’ve all been guilty of this in one way or another. Maybe we’re preoccupied and not really paying attention to what the other person is saying. Maybe we’re busy preparing what we are going to say in response. Maybe we’re anxious about something else and just pretending to listen.”

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But just because it happens doesn’t mean we have to make a habit of it. One way to improve your listening skills, he says, is to make sure you don’t fall into the following bad habits:

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The interrupter. Interrupting others when they are speaking sends a negative message, says Takash. It’s as if you were telling the customer: “I am not really interested in paying attention to what you have to say. Obviously, what I have to say is more important.”

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The sentence finisher. When you finish other people’s sentences, Takash says, what they hear is: “I know how to complete your thoughts better than you do.” He adds: “Even if you can accurately anticipate what others have to say, they will not appreciate being spoken over or cut off in mid-sentence.”

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The friendly faker. This happens when you are distracted or preoccupied and attempt to fake attention, even if you didn’t absorb anything. You nod your head or say “yes, yes,” to suggest that you’re listening. “Keep in mind that other people can sense if you’re not listening, so don’t fake it,” Takash says. “Force yourself to be honest and admit that you didn’t catch everything that was said.”

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More on listening skills appears in the December issue of Customer Communicator, the training newsletter for frontline reps.

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