A big part of being an effective team member is being a good listener. Do you think your listening skills could use some improving? Simply remember the LADDER to become a better listener.

Look at the person speaking to you. If you make eye contact, the speaker feels like he has your undivided attention. If an individual comes into your office to talk, stop what you're doing. When you continue typing or staring at your computer screen, the person talking to you feels insignificant.
Ask questions. This shows you're interested and that you're hearing what he's saying.
Don't interrupt. When you interrupt, the speaker feels you're not interested in what he's saying and will be frustrated by the inability to finish a complete thought. Take the time to listen – just relax and open your ears!
Don't change the subject. Changing the subject indicates that your mind is elsewhere. It shows you're not concentrating on what's being said at that moment, and this makes the speaker feel insignificant. If you change the subject, the speaker could also get the impression that you're avoiding the topic and may be hesitant to bring it up again.
Empathize. When someone shares information with you, put yourself in his shoes. Doing this will allow the two of you to discover solutions more easily and will also help you appreciate a perspective different from your own.
Respond verbally and non-verbally. Using an enthusiastic tone shows you're interested in what the speaker is saying. Smiling helps too! Avoid crossing your arms since this can be interpreted as being closed off. If you're speaking with someone who's sitting, you should sit too. Standing over someone is too authoritative and may make the other person feel uncomfortable.

If you're unsure whether you're a good listener or not, simply take the following test. In your next meeting or conversation, make a mental note or, even better, jot down on a piece of paper the number of times you interrupt. The fewer marks there are on your paper, the better listener you are! This seems like a silly test, but you may be surprised by the quantity of marks on your paper. After all, the worst listeners usually aren't aware that their listening skills need some attention or improvement.


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