Accused of Not Listening

Dear Jean,

I have been accused of not listening.  My employees, my husband and my children all think I don’t listen to them.  Granted, I’m pretty intense most of the time, and it is true that once in awhile I don’t completely understand what they’ve said.  I’m not even sure I want to do a great deal more listening.  I have made it this far to “senior management,” so why do I have to change?

Reply:

You don’t have to change, unless you want a smoother, less complicated life and a long-term career.  Because you have the courage to write, I feel that you are ready to make some positive changes in your listening style (I didn’t say changes in your personality).

Unless you make it a priority to hear and fully understand people, you won’t be able to do it.  Make sure that you are in the frame of mind to listen.  If you are faking it, your nonverbal communication will give you away.  If you respond so quickly that you step on their last word, you will not have processed the whole meaning of what they have said.

To make sure they know you heard them, count to three before you respond.  Listen for the facts and the body language associated with the message, then paraphrase what they just told you to confirm that you understand what they are thinking, feeling and saying.

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