Ten sound suggestions for how to listen more effectively

Blog posts are for reading, but read this one aloud and listen! Listening well is a skill, and clients and others want you to do so. Here are an earful of aids to better listening (See my post of April 13, 2007: listen, identify, and enhance; April 15, 2006: best lawyEARS; Dec. 8, 2006: encourage different viewpoints; Dec. 16, 2007: compete against Blackberries; Oct. 16, 2006: ranking outside counsel on listening skills; and March 25, 2008: a future of hypersonic sounds.)

When you listen to someone:

1) Practice empathy and perspective; put yourself in their shoes
2) Paraphrase what you just heard when it is important
3) Never assume: “I makes an ass out of you and me.”
4) Penetrate the speaker’s special knowledge by asking questions (See my post of Jan. 15, 2006: the knowledge curse.)
5) Improve the listening environment, such as by reducing distractions and allowing sufficient time
6) Let the speaker finish his or her point; don’t interrupt or jump to a conclusion
7) Focus on the message, not the person, their rank, or their delivery
8) Try to let go of biases, sacred cows, and defensiveness
9) Hear the other person out before you start to formulate your response
10) If possible, do some homework before you start listening

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