Who is listening?
Skills of True Listeners

Unskilled Listeners

Skilled Listeners

Tune out the other person at the beginning of communication. They "overstand" or prejudge what is being said without becoming informed.
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Tune in to the other person at the beginning of communication. They understand or defer their judgement. They listen for feelings and facts.
Are quick to mentally criticize grammar, appearance, or speaking style. Their attention is directed to external factors.
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Pay attention to the content of the words and behavior.
Spend the time getting ready to talk before the speaker is finished talking.
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Listen to all the words and nuances before formulating a response.
Tend to listen to mainly for facts (specific bits of information, possible errors, etc.) to pounce on the speaker to prove the speaker wrong.
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Listen to the main idea of the speaker and assemble a full thoughtfulness before responding to what the speaker is conveying.
Try to rebut every fact, especially exaggerations and errors.
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Concentrate on the main message. They attempt to respond to the whole thought. Keep the communication on track with the issue.
Fake or pretend they are attentive. Divide their attention or try to do something else while appearing to listen.
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Work to maintain attention on what the speaker is saying. Block out competing thoughts.
Give up when they realize they have to actively work at understanding what the speaker is saying.
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Listen fully, then sort, give feedback, and ask for clarification.
Tend to get distracted by emotional words. Don't control their own emotions and may express their emotions inappropriately.
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Feel honest emotions that are consistent with what the speaker is attempting to communicate. They do not allow their emotions to govern their behavior.
Give little, if any, appropriate, verbal response.
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Give affirmative and affirming statements. Invite additional comments
Are unaware of the talking/listening rate variations and thereby waste mental energy being lost on tangential thinking.
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Match the pace of the speaker and work to stay on the same line of thought as the speaker.
Are impatient with the speaker and want to get back into the speaking part of the conversation quickly.
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Maintain patience and then proceed with their own thoughts at the appropriate time.

This chart has been modified from a page I found with no author on it.  If you know the origin, please let me know the origin (this is a link).

If you would like to improve your listening skills, the following exercise will do it for you. Download form.

Step 1: Go through each of the above skill couplets and rate how well you believe you the skilled-listener skill in the whole of your life as you are now. (Estimate in 5% breaks of how well you use the skill. I.e. 15%, 30% 50% not 24.456%.) Let the list sit for 24 hours.

Step 2: On the next day after the 24 hours, re-rate yourself. (People often find under and over estimates after they concentrate on the skills for a while.) Let the list sit until the next day.

Step 3: On Day 3, pick a couplet that is close to 50% and concentrate on practicing that skill all day long.

Step 4: On Day 4, repeat with another couplet near 50%.

Step 5: On Day 5, pick the lowest estimated couplet and concentrate on practicing that skill all day long.

Step 6: Keep on picking couplets from the low end that have not been practiced until you have practiced all 11 couplets. This will take you to day 13.

Step 7: On Day 14, re-rate the skill levels of each couplet. You can repeat Step 6 for all 11 couplets on Day 15.

Have fun. When you have them all at 70%, you will be an incredible listener, especially if others agree with your 70% score. I am still working on it too.

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