When you speak, do others hear you? Do they ‘listen’ to you? Are you listening to them?

Listening and hearing are different actions. Hearing is the physical act of the ear picking out sounds from another’s voice. It simply happens. Listening is what you consciously choose to do. Listening requires concentration so your brain can create meaning from words and sentences.

Listening leads to learning.

Many people have the ability to hear but not the gift to listen. When someone is talking we become defensive in our listening. For instance, when you hear the words, “I’d like you to help me …” your mind begins to fit the words into categories that you have adopted as being mostly what you think when you hear those words. Like, “Oh, not again!” or “I can’t!” or “I’m too busy!”

Some people call this listening from experience. Here’s what’s really happening. You are not truly open to hearing what they are saying. After you hear a few words you jump into the editing room deciding what they mean, preparing an answer before they are finished talking.

That’s when you miss the target. You are setting yourself up for not getting the whole picture, the intention or the prospect that may exist. You’ve potentially shut yourself off from something that could enhance a relationship or create an outstanding opportunity for you in the future.

Next time you are in a conversation or hearing a conversation, count how many times people (or you) interrupt the person talking, finishing what you think they are going to say. Some people do this with jokes, news items, or stories they’ve already heard.

Editing and interrupting spoil the conversation straining relationships.

So the next time you are in a conversation with someone, here are 3 tips on how you can be sure you are listening.

1. Improve your attention span. Put down the book. Mute the television. Make eye contact. Nod your head. Face the person.

2. Button your lip. Count to 5 before you offer a response. And when you do respond, begin by reflecting back to that person what you thought you heard. This will either confirm or dispel what they said. Invite them to correct you if you are wrong.

3. Develop your consciousness. Pay attention to the speaker’s body language. Listen between the lines, for what’s not being said. Ask questions. Seek more information. Show interest.

Building an awareness of your current listening habits, improving them, and becoming more attentive will boost your connection making you great person to talk to. And when you are the person people what to talk with, you become a major influence.

Author's Bio: 

Influence and persuasion expert, Karen Keller, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and Master Certified Coach with over 25 years of experience. She focuses on women's leadership and empowerment as well as executive, personal, relationship and life coaching. She is also a successful entrepreneur and author. Her other areas of specialization include mentoring, sales techniques, success skills, intuition, body language, management development training, motivational speaking, and corporate training. Discover Influence It! Real POWER for Women now! For your free subscription visit http://www.karen-keller.com.