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Executive Service Corps' Guide to Listening

Step 1: Maintain eye contact.

This is important if you’re communicating by video conference, FaceTime, Skype, or in person. Nonverbal communication is the vast majority of communication, so eye contact is key.


Step 2: Pay attention.

Try to pay careful attention. Don’t interrupt with words, sounds, gestures, dramatic facial expressions, or other reactions. Just relax into listening. If you lose the thread when the person stops speaking, ask them to repeat themselves from the last thing you can quote directly. Don’t interrupt in any way, even if you have a rebuttal or solution.


Step 3: Don’t judge.

As you listen carefully take in the information with an open mind. You might not agree but you won’t be able to fully understand their point of view without opening your mind to their perspective.


Step 4: Picture their words.

As you carefully listen to their words try and picture what the speaker is saying. Put yourself in their position in the narrative. Feel what they feel. Try to think what they might think.


Step 5: Ask questions.

After the speaker concludes, if applicable, ask any clarifying questions.


Step 6: Restate.

After the speaker concludes restate their points and thesis back to them succinctly. Ask them to verify that you’ve correctly understood them. Make sure to include any feelings you sense from their statements.


Only after you successfully verify your restatement should you respond with your thoughts, feelings, and personal perspective.

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External Listening Exercises

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