7 Steps to becoming a good listener

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Listening is as important for good conversation as speech is. Your ability to influence or convince people increases manifold, if you develop good listening skills. There are many other advantages of being a good listener. These include:

i) Learning from listening:  When you talk, you repeat what you already know but when you listen, you are likely to learn something new.

ii) Active listening is the secret to discover great stories:  Active listening enables you to understand and assimilate not only what is said but also what are left unsaid. The body language and the modulation of the speech reveals all.

iii) Improving relations:  Everyone wants to the other to listen. Good Listening raises the self-esteem of the speaker. At the same time, you also become important in your own assessment. More importantly, the speaker finds that you are giving respect to his views. As a result the relationship between two individuals improves.

iv)Unnecessary arguments avoided:  In the meetings most arguments take place due to lack of proper listening and understanding. It is said that first understand and then be understood. You already know what needs to be said if you listen to the other person appropriately and you have understood him/her.

v) Overall improvement of productivity:  If you are a good listener and make the speaker feel that you are, the conversation becomes more focused. Brevity replaces verbosity and time and energy is saved by everyone.

There would be many other advantages of being a good listener but I think these are enough to convince everyone about the dire need to become a good listener.  How can one become a good listener? What are the steps we must take for becoming one? I list below seven steps which when followed would result in development of adequate listening skills. These are:

Step I: Prepare yourself to listen. Relax and focus on what the speaker says. If any other thought is coming to your mind, put it aside when listening to someone. Do not try to think and solve any other problem like you might miss your train or about the argument you might had with your boss and the like.

Step II: Make the speaker comfortable and put him at ease. Let them feel free to express what they have in mind. Maintaining an eye contact will make the speaker feel that you are listening.

Step III: Maintain your patience. If you are not patient your body language will reveal that. And it is not possible to listen properly unless you are relaxed and  are not in a hurry.

Step IV: You must empathize. Try to understand people by looking at the situation from their perspective. If the speaker says something with which you do not agree, keep an open mind and don’t snub.

Step V:  Avoid your personal prejudices. You may have one style of saying things. You may be fluent in language; everyone is not. So, you must not negate others on any such basis. Give them a fair opportunity to explain.

Step VI: Listen to the body language. You can listen with your ears. But you can also listen with your eyes. Body language is extremely important when you are engaged any critical discussion.

Step VII: Ideas are important, not just the words. Listen to understand the ideas. The speaker may not be an expert in communications and may not use precise language. In that case reframe the sentence according to your understanding and ask if you have understood well.

The above steps to improve your listening skills aptly deserve the time and effort you may spend. The benefits are immense.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

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6 Aspects of PowerPacked Personality

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There are 6 critical aspects of personality which every individual needs to analyze and review. One may be extremely efficient in the work, highly qualified, good at application of mind and yet he/she may miss out on some crucial issues that concern life.

  1. Communication Skills: These skills are very important and often undermined and ignored. Speech and written communication are the vehicles of our expression. If we have great thoughts but we cannot express these effectively, the process affects our self confidence. Likewise in the negotiations even though we may be right, have all necessary information, great arguments, yet if our verbal communication skills are in any way lacking; we miss out on opportunities.
  2. Interpersonal Skills: Interpersonal skills refer to our ability to connect with other people. It refers to our competence to influence people around us at the work place or at home for the desired results. Intentions are indeed important. But if our communication does not reflect and establish our intention, the goodness is wasted. Associated with it is your reliability. And also, how you conduct yourself and your behavior.
  3. Leadership Skills: Even if you don’t have a single follower, you still are a leader. You lead yourself. That is extremely important. Like a good leader if you analyze your strengths and weaknesses, if you make best use of time, if you are self aware, and if you take care of mental or physical health, nothing will stop you from leading yourself and others very efficiently. In the present competitive environment the leadership skills have assumed even greater importance.
  4. Assertiveness: Assertiveness is not aggression though it is often confused with aggression. It represents your talent to be able to say ‘no’ when you want to say ‘no’. Often times it seems that because of various considerations and because of fear that we may offend others, even when we don’t want to say ‘yes’ we do so. It puts us to lot of difficulties. At other times we have to face problems with members of our family and friends. How to say ‘no’ without offending the other person is nothing short of an art. It is to be developed. It is to be continuously mastered. This art requires cordiality in your tone, coordination between the mind and the speech and active listening. The proficiency in language is also very important to create proper impression.
  5. Body language, Grooming and Image management: Body language may be considered as a part of your communication skills but it is also a part of your physical personality. Positive body language means that you stand comfortably on your feet. Straight but never stooping even a little or bringing out your chest. Wearing a slight smile on your face with a relaxed look of peace, would add to the physical personality. Grooming is also important. What to wear when to wear indeed makes a difference. Of late quite a bit of emphasis is also put on image management. What is image management? It is the impression which you create on people when you meet them first time. It is said that the 15 seconds make a lasting impact. It may be debatable. However image management has become an important aspect of one’s personality.
  6. Time Management: Last but not the least; you need to be a very efficient manager of your time. This great resource is equally distributed to all of us. Our productivity and growth depends among other things on its use. In order to check where we lose time or do not manage effectively, we must make a ‘Time Log’ for 2 to 3 days. ‘Time Log’ is a list of details of your activities routine, small or big on daily basis. You can identify then where you can save time or be more efficient. Besides, we need to focus on what we do. Prioritizing is also important. Above all, discipline must be maintained which means you do things which need to be done at a particular time even if you don’t like it.

I do not claim that the above that 6 aspects comprise the total personality. However these are the main areas which should be reviewed periodically. Life is extremely interesting when we are self aware, when we know ‘what we are’, when we realize our objectives and keep on working to achieve these bit by bit.

Thanks for reading

7 Speech Blemishes that Wreck Confidence

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Speech was never as important as it is now. Today, it’s necessary that business leaders must be able to speak clearly and effectively. There are a number of speech blemishes which cause embarrassment while making presentations. Sometimes an executive in an important conversation finds himself/herself less than ‘up to the mark’. This is best avoided. I list below 7 of the blemishes which need to be addressed.

  1. Lack of clarity in speech: Often times we find that the speech of a person is not as articulate as it should be. Sometime they speak too fast; sometimes they mumble some words in a sentence. Though overall message is communicated but listener finds it’s difficult to assimilate. Each and every word, therefore, should be spoken clearly. The problem arises due to improper/inadequate use of speech organs. While the sound is produced by the vocal cord, the words are created by the speech organs.
  1. Inability to hold the attention of the listener: If the speaker does not modulate the voice, it is difficult to hold the attention of the listener. Modulation is the speaker’s ability to bring in variance in pace, pause, pitch, emphasis on the keyword and the tone. This can be corrected with the help of appropriate speech exercises.
  1. Use of filler words: At times, one finds that the speaker repetitively uses filler words which are: ‘like’, ‘you know’, ‘actually’, ‘basically’ etc. The filler words could also be just sounds uh…uh……and uh…. plus other such fillers. Since they are used as a matter of habit, so it requires focused attention to bring in change of such habit.
  1. Improper breathing: It is breath which creates the sound. We have to have sufficient amount of breath in our lungs. This requires practice of deep breathing. The best practice is to take breath at the time when you pause, and consciously, until it is a part of your speech habit.
  1. Improper pause: Pause if not taken at a right spot mitigates the efficacy of the speech. Pause must be taken at the end of a clause or at the end of the sentence. It should not happen that we have to take a pause because of the lack of breath.
  1. Body language: The speaker must be aware and maintain proper body language. Business etiquette demand that he/she must maintain just right kind of eye contact- neither more nor less. It helps in bringing about a rapport between the speaker and the listener.
  1. Last but not the least; I must talk about the stage fright. Even experienced speakers suffer from stage fright, primarily due to the speech blemishes detailed above. Further, stage fright also inflicts the speaker due to lack of preparation and not understanding the needs and the profile of the audience.

Thanks for reading.

Six Aspects of Personality Never to be Ignored!

Hi,

Today I’ll talk to you about 6 critical aspects of one’s personality. There should never be ignored. Which are the six characteristics that define a successful person.

1.The first one represents the physical aspects. How do you look? How you carry yourself and the clothes that you wear. These are important. Your posture, the body language and your smile are even more important. Practice and rehearse your smile for different situations. This may appear silly. But it is not.

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2. After physical aspects, you must develop a positive attitude. Overcome all negative assumptions. First you have to identify these negative assumptions and then throw this art. An open mind without preconceived notions, alone can breed a positive attitude.

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3. Third point to be emphasized is about your communications- both verbal & written. Regarding verbal, you must ensure that you sport a reasonable cordiality at all times. A smile on your face and a desire to be cordial will do the trick. Your voice quality and modulation while speaking are also very important for the efficacy of your communications.

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4. Fourth notable characteristic of personality is competence in interpersonal skills. It’s necessary to be adept in interpersonal skills. Today, more than ever before. On can achieve progress only with the help and co-operation of others. That makes if necessary that we build good relations with all concerned. It so one must develop the required capacity to build good relations.

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5. Fifth distinctive feature of a successful personality is time management. Little can be achieved by anyone if his/her time is out managed productively. Only when you are and time wise you achieve something significant. Otherwise you are left behind. Growth and progress are no longer linear. They are exponential. So it’s imperative to make the best use of limited time available to us.

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6. Finally & the sixth distinctive quality of personality is about your goals, focus & perspective. Success can be achieved only by consistently making efforts toward realization of your goals. This can happen with your focus on what is required to be done. Perspective must not be allowed to be prejudiced. Any  circumstances or situations should not impact your desire & ability to pursue your goals.

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Thanks for reading.

Personality- Physical Aspects

When you meet an individual, the first few things you observe are:

How does he/she look? How is the posture? The facial expression? The clothes? How the clothes are carried by the person? Is he/she overdressed? Or underdressed? Befitting the occasion? Or not?

All the above attributes are important to create the first impression. Though this is not the last impression as some people may believe. Yet it’s very important. So be discrete in choice of fit, colors, fall, finish and all these characteristics which contribute to make you look good.

More important than these is, your posture. Posture is indicative of your health as well as your confidence. How you sit is as important as how you stand and vice versa.

The facial expression on your face need to match your posture. This expression tells a lot on what is going on in your mind. On an average an individual receives fifty thousand thoughts in one day. It is necessary for the individual to control their number and keep the number as low as possible. The lesser the number the more focused a person becomes. And this shows on your facial expression. A smile is the best companion which will not allow the turbulence of your mind to show on your face. Besides, smile helps reduce the worries.

And then it is your body language! What is body language? How you walk? How you hold your head over your shoulders? How do you place your lips? These are all important features of body language? The art and science of image management concerns more on dress, choice of colors, how the dress is fashioned etc.

It’s an art to be mastered: the strategic use of body language for best results.

Adopt a relaxed, upright posture. This will speak of your genial confidence. If you have sagging and slumping shoulders, these will suggest that you are tired and bored of life. In public life such a posture is suicidal.

Further, where you find your place to sit is also important. Do you select a place where you avoid the eyes of others? Or do you prefer a prominent place where you are sure to be noticed?

In this age of social media and networking, developing and maintain a positive body language is critical. What you say is important but how you say it often more important. A recent survey revealed that 65% of communication depends on your gestures, expression and body language. This is an area where not only attention is needed but also a consistent desire to hone the skills. It should be matched with adequate real time practice. That alone will help you to bring in the required change in the body language that you portray.

Good health is needed to enable you to be in control. Physical health will make your good posture easy to maintain. Good mental health will take care of your facial expression. Mature effective voice requires both physical and mental health should be in good shape. This then, is another reason that you must be health conscious and consistently maintain good health.

Thanks for reading.

Listen twice as much as you speak!

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Today I will speak to you about importance of listening skills. Title of my speech is: “Listen twice as much as you speak”. That itself speaks a lot about how important listening is.

What are listening skills? How you go about developing these? And what for? What is the difference between hearing and listening?

All these questions are simply answered with the definition of communication. We communicate to exchange ideas and views. We communicate to influence people, to negotiate deals. So, it’s necessary not just to hear but to listen, understand and assimilate information contained in the speech. Then only we can respond. But if we don’t listen but just hear, and if we are only anxious to say what we want to say, the objectives of communication is lost.

Listening becomes very easy with some modification of our habits. These are:

  1. We must focus on the speaker. All other thoughts should not be allowed to tax the mind or to divert it. Normally as many as 50,000 thoughts come to mind each day. But with efforts, we can reduce their number. When we focus on the speaker we can surely assimilate the information the speaker is trying to convey.
  2. While listening in one on one conversation, we must not interrupt. Even when we don’t agree with what the speaker’s opinion is. We must be patient enabling them to complete their statements.
  3. Your objective of communication will be served better if you make the speaker comfortable. How do you do that? By nodding your head, other body language, gestures, or just say yes, please go ahead etc. The speaker must be sure that you are listening. Your listening makes the speaker comfortable.
  4. Look at the views of the speaker from their perspective. Try to examine to issue while wearing speaker’s shoes.
  5. You must practice patience. You must never try to complete speaker’s sentences even if you are confirming or appreciating their thoughts.
  6. All speakers may not be very articulate. They may have some speech blemishes. Faults like using filler words, inaccurate pronunciation, breathing at wrong place in a sentence etc. You must ignore these and focus on the idea the speaker is presenting.
  7. Survey reveals that 60% of the communication happens with the body language. So closely watch the body language of the speaker to understand speaker’s intent.
  8. Last but not the least, identify the idea by putting together the pieces of information the speaker has vocalized. All speakers are not expurts in speaking skills. So help them. It also serves you.

Thank you.

 

Interpersonal skills

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Good interpersonal skills form a basic requirement for an individual, today. If you are deficient in interpersonal skills, you meet road blocks everywhere. Life was never so interactive, never so social. We all depend on each other more than ever in the past. So it’s necessary not only to understand but consciously move forward to develop commendable interpersonal skills.

  1. Simply said, the skills relate to your getting along with people around you. Since we are all individuals, so we think differently. This we must keep in mind all the time. We may present our point of view but if we try to impose on others we will never be excused. Such actions kill the possibility of developing good interpersonal skills.image4
  2. In order that we respect others, we must listen to them carefully and understand their perspective. It is only by understanding others that we will know how to deal with them. Even when we are talking with juniors, we cannot take them for granted. Everyone is conscious of their rights of holding on to their opinions. So, in case we want to convince them we may do so respecting their opinions and presenting politely our view point. If you are able to establish the mutual benefit, everyone will appreciate your moves. You will in the process improve your interpersonal skills.                    image5
  3. We all have some hidden assumptions. These assumptions do determine our behavior. For example, if our views about a particular person are negative, we will assume that he/she will never help us. Here the negative assumption will act as a road block. Even if we had an unhappy experience, we should approach people with an open mind. Always assume positive intent and surely it will be helpful.
  4. It is normal that the conflicts are likely to occur among people who work together. The best way to build harmonious relationship is to understand each of them, respect their personal views and beliefs and resolve any conflict, sooner than later. Unresolved conflicts become hurdles in developing and sustain good relations. One must remember that a team can be victorious only if they work in harmony. image7
  5. Language and speech play a very important role in the development of your interpersonal skills. In case of inadequacy of language you may end up communicating a message that may be considered as offensive even when you don’t intend any offense. Your body language is also of great consequence. Maintaining a positive body language and cordiality in tone are extremely helpful. Time spent on mastery of the language will never go unrewarded.

To conclude, I would like to say that developing interpersonal skills consciously cannot be ignored by any management professional. In fact, organizations are hiring experts to train their employees develop this very special art. Better interpersonal skills are conducive to improving efficiency of the organization and also its bottom line. Customer relations solely depend on your proficient interpersonal skills.

Thanks for reading.