Paralegals--Listening Skills 101

Certain skills, once mastered, enrich our lives forever. Learning to play a musical instrument and knowing how to speak a foreign language are good examples of this principle.
There is another skill, that once mastered is truly invaluable in every aspect of life and business - the important skill of Listening.
In case you haven't noticed, when we want to sell, convince, negotiate or win, we do most of the talking. When the ratio in talking is 80% YOU and 20% them, you've already lost the battle. A true dialog means exactly that: Half is you and the other half is them = 50%/50%.
So why do we do most of the talking? First of all, talking is easier than listening. It makes us think that we are in control. Besides, we might not like the answers to the questions we asked! Lopsided discussions often end in frustration, anger and failure. 

Here are Five Steps to Better Listening
1. Attitude Adjustment: Be willing to change the way you think. Instead of considering a conversation to be a challenge to "persuade", consider it a mutual journey. There are signs along the way and the postings will come naturally if you let them. Pay attention to the words that are used and don't assume you understand their definition of a term. Words can be very personal and idiocentric and cultural and not mean what you think. Ask for clarity.
2. Noise Reduction: Quiet the noise in your head. Few of us actually listen with full participation. How many times have you simply waited for the other person to just stop talking so you could speak! Stop thinking and just listen, with full attention, no voices in your head. Notice the other persons body language, voice inflection, facial expressions as well as their word choices.
3. Reflect Back: When the other person has finished speaking, your reply should first and foremost be a 'reflection" - that's coach talk for repeating back to them what you thought you heard them say. It can be very surprising and humbling when you find out that you didn't get what they just said. On the other hand, when you reach mutual agreement on what was actually said, everything changes.
4. Ego Removal: Let go of having to be right. There's a business saying - "Do you want to fill your ego or your bank account?" The result is not that you are right, but that the problem for both parties is solved to mutual satisfaction. It might not be the solution you thought would be chosen, but it will be the solution that really works.
5. Make it a Win Win: Once the other person realizes that you actually heard what they said, they will most likely relax, share and trust you. That's when true communication begins. That's when the real conversations take place. That's when problems get solutions and you have a chance to make your sale, prove your point and get what you want. When its a win win situation, there is potential for a deeper, more worthwhile and profitable relationship with your communication partner.
Learning how to truly listen will be the best gift you ever give to yourself and those you love, work with and serve.



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