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Become an Active Listener by Michelle Casto

» Introduction
Contrary to what you may have heard, listening does not come easy for most people, yet it is one of the most important skills we can use on the job and in our personal relationships.
» Step 1
Hearing is a biological function, most people can hear unless they are hearing impaired. Listening, however, is a skill which takes active participation and conscious effort. Listening takes the words and sounds that we hear and interprets them. The importance of active listening cannot be overstated. In order to be effective on the job (and in life), you must develop your listening skills. This means being actively engaged with the person speaking by looking at them, asking questions, and reflecting back to them what you heard them say.

There are three main elements to active listening: tuning in, asking questions, and reflecting on what the person has said. Tuning in means being fully present with the person and eliminating internal or external distractions. Asking questions involves posing thoughtful, relevant questions to further understand the other person’s feelings or thoughts. And reflecting involves repeating back to them in your own words the facts, feelings, and underlying meaning of the words.

There are many benefits to becoming a good listener: better ability to help others, social acceptance and popularity, and the ability to avoid problems that result from a lack of listening. To listen more effectively, clear your mind, maintain an open body stance and good eye contact, pay attention to not only the logical content of the message, but also the emotional, and respond appropriately (by nodding, smiling, or asking a probing question).

» Step 2
Are You a Good Listener?
Answer each question Yes or No

1. I am able to empathize with other people’s situations.

2. I avoid interrupting other people when they are speaking.

3. I avoid thinking of how I am going to respond to the conversation while someone is speaking.

4. I give people my full attention when speaking with them.

5. I do not try to tell “my story” as soon as someone tells me their story.

6. I avoid thinking I know what the speaker is about to say.

7. I maintain good eye contact and body language when speaking with someone.

8. I ask a lot of questions when someone is talking with me.

9. I reflect back feelings and facts, so I am sure I heard the person correctly.

10. People often come to me just to talk.

If you answered “Yes” to seven or more questions, you are a good listener. If you answered “No” to five or more, you may need to work on your listening skills.

Get Smart!
Listening is one of the most powerful communication tools we have available in our work toolbox.

Job Retention Smart Tips

You are now successfully established in your career field. Is it time to kick back and relax? Not if you want to stay employed. With the days of “fire at will” and upsizing and downsizing, knowing what it takes to stay successfully employed is an essential job survival skill.


When you are not sure about something that is said or done, be sure to ask for clarification.
Don’t do all the talking. Strive for 60-70% listening, 30-40% talking while on the job.
Don’t interrupt. Allow adequate time for the person to answer or ask a question.
Keep your emotions in check. An angry person does not listen well.
Take time to tune in, reflect back, and ask questions of the other person.
Maintain good eye contact and an open-mind.
Try being a counselor for a day. Let a friend or co-worker talk out a problem and listen without judgment or giving advice.

Establish positive relationships with your boss, know his or her strengths/weaknesses, and preferred communication style (in person or in writing).
Find a mentor to look up to.
Value diversity and learn from others.
Accept constructive criticism and learn from mistakes.
Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you.
Avoid getting caught up in office gossip and politicking.

Be brief and to the point in all your business correspondence.
Introduce one thought per paragraph.
Read books and magazines in your career field to see what is being researched and written about.
Use an active rather than passive voice.
Organize your thoughts with an outline before you begin writing.
Consider how your message will affect your readers.
Keep your messages concise and avoid sending emotionally-charged messages.


Speak confidently and directly.
If asked to give a presentation, rehearse your material and use visual aids to support your ideas.
Maintain good eye contact and body language with your audience.
Don’t preach or try to convince people of your beliefs. Simply state them with conviction and confidence.
Whenever possible, ask a lot of questions.
Use paraphrasing (restating what the person has said).
Give speeches, this will show you how to effectively organize and deliver your message.

Learn something new every day.
Ask questions about your job.
Look for ways you “can do” it.
Provide solutions and suggestions, not problems and complaints.
Constantly re-invent yourself.
Choose a goal, then walk like, walk like, look like, think like, act like and be like it.
» Step 3
A word about the use of e-mail. E-mail is a faster medium than conventional pen and paper. It produces an instant message. It also is a disposable communication---people usually delete it after reading it. Therefore, if you have something important to say, and/or want the message to last, then you should write it the old-fashioned way (memo or letter).

Shine On & Shine Bright,
Dr. Michelle L. Casto
The Soul Coach, Speaker and Author

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Get Smart!
118 Courtland Dr. Corpus Christi, Texas 78418
T: (361) 232-3939

Technorati Tags: Michelle Casto,Active Listener,career,reflecting,tuning in,person's feelings,Bright Light Coach,good listener

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