Silence is an extremely useful, strategic listening tool. A few years ago, Strategy+Business published an article titled “Lessons of Silence” and provided five ideas to help your hearing. They are:

  1. Look people in the eye: Looking the person speaking in the eye while they talk forces you to listen to what they are saying. Don’t worry about taking notes either. This degree of focus supposedly helps you to remember what is said better, and the ability increases over time.
  2. Don’t interrupt: Only one person should speak at a time. This will minimize misunderstandings and distractions so less clarification is needed later, which will save time in the long run.
  3. Say what you mean, as simply as possible: Forcing listeners to read between the lines as you speak wastes a lot of time and energy as they try to figure out what you really mean. Save everyone time by being direct and clear as you speak.
  4. When you don’t understand something, ask: Why leave a meeting without understanding the whole conversation? If you lack clarity, ask for it. Don’t let your pride get in the way.
  5. Stay focused: This is difficult for many people, especially when e-mails, text messages, and other important communications are ever present. The only way to keep focused is to do it. Don’t multi-task. Don’t pay any attention to other distractions. Stay present in the conversation and focus.

These five points will help in any situation where communication is critical. Be an example of these points and maybe—just maybe—people around you will pick up on them and use them, too.

To read the original article, go to leading_ideas-20080522.pdf.

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About the Author
Josh Nuttall
Josh’s role and experience at CMOE has been supporting the development of curriculum design for a wide variety of leadership topics and organizational issues and challenges.

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