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Chapter 26. Develop Key Listening Skills > Here are four steps for improving yo...

Here are four steps for improving your listening skills:

  1. Listen for central ideas.

    People often rely on examples, illustrations, and repetition to get their message across. By summarizing this information, you can get to the core of the message and focus more clearly on what your mentor is sharing with you.

  2. Determine what is of personal value to you in your mentor’s conversation.

    Once you have clarified the central idea, consider how it applies to you. This will help reinforce the learning, since you can now better identify with the mentor’s message.

  3. Identify and eliminate as many of your “trigger” words as possible.

    Virtually everyone has an emotional reaction, positive or negative, to certain words, ideas and associations. These “psychological deaf spots” often trigger an emotional reaction that may change your mood, set you on new paths of speculation, or otherwise prevent you from hearing the speaker’s central idea. Work to overcome such emotional responses so you can be more receptive to what your mentor has to offer.

    To become more aware of your trigger words, keep track of your next few conversations—with anyone—to see what words or phrases trigger an emotional response in you. Choose one and write down why you think it makes you react emotionally.

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  4. Use the advantage of thought speed over speech speed productively.

    Most people can think five to six times faster than another person can talk. The result is your mind starts to wander, you daydream, or you begin to mentally argue with the speaker. Unless you develop techniques for staying in touch with what your mentor is saying, important parts of the experience can be lost.

    List two or three things you can do when your mind starts to wander.

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The forgoing does not suggest that you should suppress your feelings, but that you should use them to help define and solve problems.


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