Magazine article Work & Family Life

The Rich Rewards of 'Generous' Listening

Magazine article Work & Family Life

The Rich Rewards of 'Generous' Listening

Article excerpt

Writer Fran Lebowitz quips, "The opposite of talking isn't listening.

The opposite of talking is waiting." Many people act that way in a conversation. Instead of listening, they're just waiting to have their say.

People often think of listening as merely not talking. But listening is not a passive activity requiring only the occasional nod as we wait for our turn to speak. Listening is active. It means giving our undivided attention. We speak at a rate of about 150 words a minute, but we can think at more than 800 words a minute. That's why it takes some self-training to focus rather than wander off on a mental tangent.

Listening's many benefits Here are some of the benefits of generous, thoughtful listening.

You'll stand out. Giving someone your full attention is increasingly rare in this distracting world. Do it and you will make a positive impression. People will remember talking with you.

You'll be able to respond witl more intelligence and wit if you listen for other people's interests, enthusiasms and challenges, as wel as their agendas.

You'll develop a reputation as a great connector. Whom would your conversation partner like to meet? Listen for what people have in common. As you link people, they will want to reciprocate.

You will be able to make your own points more effectively. Careful listening will make you a more nimble conversationalist, allowing you to segue to the issues you would like to raise without sounding too abrupt.

Learn to take turns Some people talk too little, others too much. Make an effort to have your fair share of air time and encourage others to talk. …

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