Listen for Success

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One of my early articles published on the communication skill of listening. It can make all the difference.

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Listen for Success

  1. 1. “Listen for Success” By Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMADale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, wrote, “You can make more friendsin two weeks by becoming a good listener than you can in two years by trying to get other peopleinterested in you.” He recognized that people who are self-absorbed and talk about themselves all the timerarely develop strong relationships with others. Your entire success as a doctor, business person andentrepreneur will be based on your ability to establish relationships. It is essential for you to understandthe importance of listening and how to develop this skill for maximum impact on your communicationstyle. Successful people understand the incredible value of becoming a good listener. To be a goodlistener, you have to want to hear. But you also need some skills to help you.Here are five strategies to help you become a better listener. 1. Listen to UnderstandWhenever you don‟t pay attention to what others have to say, you communicate that you don‟t valuethem. But when you listen to others, you communicate that you respect them and you show them that youcare. Zig Ziglar said, „People don‟t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Taketime to listen to them as a person, not just a doctor. Effective listening requires more than hearing words,it requires that you find meaning and understanding in what is being said. Meanings are not in words, butin people. Put yourself in the other person‟s place and your ability to understand will increase. 2. Look at the SpeakerIt‟s called eye contact. Listening begins with giving the speaker your undivided attention. During aconversation make sure you have PTC (Present Time Consciousness). In other words keep your thoughtsfocused on them. Don‟t do anything that will distract you from actively listening to the speaker, such ascatching up on other work or taking notes. And if you don‟t have the time at the moment, then schedule atime when you can give them full attention. A person forms their first impression of you within tenseconds, so you have one opportunity to get it right. 3. Stay QuietDon‟t be so quick to jump in with a response. Don‟t interrupt. Let the speaker finish their thought beforeyou reply. There is nothing wrong with having a moment of silence before you talk. Silence will give youa chance to reflect on what‟s being said so that you can respond appropriately. Don‟t feel that one of youhas to be speaking all the time. Silence can be an extremely powerful communication tool in business.Most people feel very uncomfortable with silence. The one who speaks last holds all the power in aconversation. This comes in very handy during a Report of Findings. Next time you give a report, simplystate the amount of care required and stop talking. Wait for the patient to reply first, no matter how long ittakes. You will see a greater increase in patient compliance.
  2. 2. 4. Sum UpListening is more effective when it‟s active. A technique for active listening is to sum up what the otherperson says at major intervals. As a speaker finishes one subject, paraphrase their main points or ideasbefore going on to the next one, and verify that you have gotten the right message. For example, “So, Ms.Smith let me review to make sure I understand you correctly.” A very powerful technique that reassuresthe person and helps you stay focused on what he or she is trying to communicate. After a Patient HistoryEvaluation, take a moment to sum up exactly what they told you about their condition. Patients want toknow you are listening and unfortunately most doctors don‟t. This is an extraordinary rapport buildingskill to implement. 5. Respond Verbally and Non-VerballyA good listener will stop talking and use receptive language instead. Use the „I see . . . uh huh . . . ohreally‟ words and phrases that follow and encourage your speakers thought. This forces you to react tothe ideas presented, rather than the person. If you really want to listen, you will act like a good listener.Good listeners speak body language. The best technique is to “mirror” the speaker. Assume the samebody language and conversational tone he or she is presenting. You need to be a bit of an actor. Mirroringthe person‟s tonality, sounding like they sound, makes them feel comfortable. If they talk fast, you talkfast. If they talk slowly you talk slowly. You can strengthen the bond by using the same words they use.For example, if they use the term „popping sound‟ be sure to begin saying „popping sound.‟ If the speakertalks with their hands, you should do the same. Never mock the speaker, merely assume the samelanguage.Make listening a priority, no matter how busy you become. Many people take for granted the ability tolisten. Most people consider listening to be easy, and they view themselves as pretty good listeners. Whileit‟s true that most people are able to hear, few are capable of really listening. Take time to develop thisskill and the results will be astoundingly powerful. Here is a Quick Start Action Plan. Spend one hour thisweek talking with the most important person in your life and give that person your undivided attention,spending two-thirds of the time just listening. Watch what happens!