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Lesson 18. Listening > Become a Better Listener - Pg. 72

Listening 72 Read the Body Language When people talk, their body language often speaks volumes-- sometimes far more than their words can ever say. Take the example of a woman recounting a seemingly unimportant incident that hap- pened many years in the past. Her mouth may begin to droop, her eyes may grow sad, and she may start twisting the ring on her finger. This body language tells you that the event is still very much alive for her and still casting a dark shadow over her life. Watch the body language of your listeners during the dialogue questions or question-and-answer sessions in your presentation. As they're speaking, what do you see on their faces? Sometimes their facial expressions may reveal that an organizational problem is far more serious than their words are revealing, or than you could ever have imagined. Focus your attention on the speaker, and observe with your eyes as well as your ears, and you'll get all, not just part, of the message. As pointed out in an earlier chapter, reading an audience's body language can also tell you how they're reacting to your message during a presentation: Is one listener smiling and nodding his or her head? Is another listener taking assiduous notes as you speak? Did a key decision-maker respond to your last visual aid with a look of knowing appreciation? If so, then your message is having a positive impact on the audience. Become a Better Listener Although we spend a great deal of our lives listening, most of us have never taken a course in it. We learn the fundamentals of other communications skills--writing, reading, even public speaking