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Are you a good listener?

Jackie Harder

Jackie Harder

This is true-or-false quiz for good listeners only. Ready?

1. One of the most important things you can do when you’re listening to someone is keep your mouth shut.

2. In this busy, multi-tasking world, it’s OK to work on your computer and listen to someone at the same time.

3. Detailing your own story lets the other person know you have something in common.

4. To keep the conversation moving smoothly, a good listener mentally prepares his comments while the other person is talking.

5. When you break in on someone’s comment, it means you’re excited and enthusiastic about the conversation.

6. When people are struggling with a problem, a good listener generously offers a nugget of advice.

7. People mean what they say.

8. Lean away from people or sitting back in your chair to let people know you respect their personal space. 

9. It’s best to repeat, word for word, what someone has said to you to make sure you’ve got it right.

10. If you make positive noises during a conversation, the other person will automatically assume you agree with them.

Here are the answers:

1. False. The other person wants to know you’re listening to them, and an appropriate word or two in the right place tells people you’re paying attention. Ongoing silence on your part could indicate that you don’t care or that you’re judging them.

2. False. It’s not OK to pound away on the keyboard when someone is talking to you. You may be able to type and hear what’s going on at the same time, but you are not listening to what you’re hearing. True listening requires your full attention.

If you’re working on something important and can’t be interrupted, say so and set a time to talk later.

3. False. It’s not about you. If you’ve got something pertinent to add from your own experience, say it quickly and move the conversation back to the other person.

4. False. A good listener pays close attention to what the other person is saying, and you can’t do that when you’re busy crafting your own response. “Combative listening” is not only counterproductive, it’s unattractive.

5. False. Interrupting someone doesn’t mean you’re enthusiastic – it means you’re rude.

Worse, it gives people the impression that they and their comments are unimportant…or at least far less important than whatever it is you want to say.

6. False. Most people don’t want unsolicited advice; they want to be heard. And if someone does ask your advice, make sure they really mean it.

7. False. Doesn’t mean they’re lying, of course, although that’s possible. Maybe something else is going on beneath the words, or that they’re having trouble expressing themselves. Depending on the conversation and the individuals there are many ways to respond if you think the other person does not mean what she’s saying.

8. False. Leaning back shows you’re disconnected from the conversation and uncaring. So does crossing your arms, turning away, answering your cell phone, looking out the window, texting someone, checking your watch and responding to e-mails.

9.  False. Repeating a conversation word for word makes you sound like a recorder. If you’re unclear about what’s been said, rephrase his comments in your own words to ensure understanding.

10. False. “Uh-huh,” “Wow,” “I see” and similar comments only means you’re paying attention. You’re not compromising your integrity, or changing your opinion, by nodding your head.

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