“If you usually communicate by way of bullet points and digital technology, you may need to re-learn the art of listening.

Active listening — the willingness and ability to hear and understand — continues to be a core element of effective leadership. When you listen well, you gain a clear understanding of another’s perspective and knowledge. Listening fosters trust, respect and openness. As a result, those all-important working relationships become more solid.

To boost your listening skills, try these tips from Michael Hoppe, author of Active Listening: Improve Your Ability to Listen and Lead:

1-Limit distractions. Move away from distraction so you can pay full attention to the other person. Yes, that means to silence your Blackberry and ignore your e-mail.

2-Focus on the moment. Pay attention to what the other person is saying, not what you want to say. Set a goal of being able to repeat the last sentence the other person says. This keeps your attention on each statement.

3-Be okay with silence. You don’t have to always reply or have a comment. Count to 10 or 20 before replying. The other person may continue after a pause; another person in the room may speak up. A pause in conversation also gives you a chance to collect your thoughts.

4-Hold your thoughts. Encourage the other person to offer ideas and solutions before you give yours. Do 80 percent of the listening and 20 percent of the talking.

5-Summarize. Restate the key points you heard and ask whether they are accurate. “Let me see whether I heard you correctly …” is an easy way to shift to your paraphrase.”

Listen to Lead
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