Listen Actively

Jane Dutton of the University of Michigan recommends four ways to listen actively.

First, paraphrase by expressing what you heard in your own words.  For example you might say, “Let me make sure I’m hearing you correctly.  You are saying that you need more financial resources to meet this month’s objectives.”

Second, summarize what you heard.  For example, you could say, “if I boil down your points I hear you saying that we have an opportunity to expand our business if we open stores in the Midwestern U.S. over the next year.”

Third, clarify by asking questions.  For example, you might say “correct me if I’m not hearing you right but I think you are saying …”

Finally, solicit feedback by asking how you are doing as a listener.  For example, you could say, “do you get the sense that I’m listening to you and hearing what you have to say.” (These practices reflect the connection culture elements of Value and Voice.)

This is the third post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others.  Although the attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

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