Learn to understand people and help them understand themselves.
According to Robert L. Montgomery, author of Listening Made Easy, the ten most common characteristics of a good listener are:
- Looks at me while I'm speaking.
- Questions me to clarify what I'm saying.
- Shows concern by asking questions about my feelings.
- Repeats some things I say.
- Doesn't rush me.
- Is poised and emotionally controlled.
- Responds with a nod of the head, a smile, or a frown.
- Pays close attention.
- Doesn't interrupt me.
- Keeps on the subject until I've finished my thoughts.
I'm impressed that two of the top three characteristics have to do with the ability to ask questions. A good listener, it seems, is also someone who asks good questions. So over the years I've worked on asking good questions-ones that will both keep the discussion on target and help me know more about the person with whom I talk.